DegP, a periplasmic dual-functional protease and chaperone in Gram-negative bacteria, is critical for bacterial stress resistance, but the precise underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. Here, we show that the protease function of DegP is critical for Escherichia coli cells to maintain membrane integrity, particularly under heat shock conditions (42°C). Site-directed photo-cross-linking, mass spectrometry and immunoblotting analyses reveal that both periplasmic proteins (e.g. OppA and MalE) and β-barrel outer membrane proteins (OMPs) are DegP-interacting proteins and that OppA is degraded by DegP in vitro and in vivo at 42°C. In addition, OmpA and BamA, chimeric β-barrel OMPs containing a soluble periplasmic domain, are bound to DegP in both unfolded and folded forms, whereas only the unfolded forms are degradable by DegP. The presence of folded OmpA as a substrate of DegP is attributed to its periplasmic domain, which is resistant to DegP degradation and even generally protects pure β-barrel OMPs from degradation in an intra-molecular way. Furthermore, a pair of residues (R262 and V328) in the PDZ domain-1 of DegP play important roles for binding unfolded and folded β-barrel OMPs, with R262 being critical. Our study, together with earlier reports, indicates that DegP plays a critical role in protein quality control in the bacterial periplasm by degrading both periplasmic proteins and β-barrel OMPs under stress conditions and likely also by participating in the folding of chimeric β-barrel OMPs. A working model is proposed to illustrate the finely tuned functions of DegP with respect to different substrate proteins.
sHSP (small heat-shock protein) IbpB (inclusion-body-binding protein B) from Escherichia coli is known as an ATP-independent holding chaperone which prevents the insolubilization of aggregation-prone proteins by forming stable complexes with them. It was found that the chaperone function of IbpB is greatly modulated by the ambient temperature, i.e. when the temperature increases from normal to heat-shock, the chaperone activity of IbpB is dramatically elevated to a level that allows it to effectively bind the aggregation-prone client proteins. Although it is generally believed that the release and refolding of the client protein from the sHSPs depends on the aid of the ATP-dependent chaperones such as Hsp (heat-shock protein) 70 and Hsp100 when the ambient temperature recovers from heat-shock to normal, the behaviour of the sHSPs during this recovery stage has not yet been investigated. In the present study, we examined the behaviour and properties of IbpB upon temperature decrease from heat-shock to normal. We found that IbpB, which becomes functional only under heat-shock conditions, retains the chaperone activity for an extended period of time after the heat-shock stress condition is removed. A detail comparison demonstrates that such preconditioned IbpB is distinguished from the non-preconditioned IbpB by a remarkable conformational transformation, including a significant increase in the flexibility of the N- and C-terminal regions, as well as enhanced dynamic subunit dissociation/reassociation. Intriguingly, the preconditioned IbpB displayed a dramatic decrease in its surface hydrophobicity, suggesting that the exposure of hydrophobic sites might not be the sole determinant for IbpB to exhibit chaperone activity. We propose that the maintenance of the chaperone activity for such ‘holdases’ as sHSPs would be important for cells to recover from heat-shock stress.
EGF (epidermal growth factor) binding to its receptor (EGFR) induces dimerization and autophosphorylation of the receptor at multiple tyrosine residues, which serve as docking sites for recruitment of proteins with SH2 (Src homology 2) domains that activate multiple downstream signalling pathways. The adaptor protein Grb2 (growth factor receptor-binding protein 2) binds to EGFR, which leads to activation of Ras-MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) cascade. The latent transcription factors, STAT (signal transduction and activator of transcription), can also be activated by EGF in certain cell types. Since Ras-MAPK and STAT pathways are simultaneously stimulated by EGF, and Tyr-1086 and Tyr-1068 of EGFR are reported to be the binding sites for both Grb2 and Stat3, we investigated the possible regulatory role of Grb2 in STAT activation. In the present study, we report that transient expression of Grb2 specifically down-regulates EGF-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of Stat3, which leads to a repression of Stat3 transcriptional activity. In contrast, depletion of Grb2 by RNA interference substantially increases Stat3 tyrosine phosphorylation induced by EGF. The inhibition is neither mediated by a direct interaction between Grb2 and Stat3 nor via activation of tyrosine phosphatases. However, the repression was abolished by a mutation in the SH2 domain, but not the SH3 domains of Grb2, suggesting that inhibition involves binding of the receptor. Indeed, Grb2 inhibits the interaction between Stat3 and EGFR by competitive binding to the EGFR. On the other hand, Grb2 does not interact with the same sites as Stat3 on the interleukin-6 receptor and, therefore, has no effect on interleukin-6-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of Stat3. Taken together, our results demonstrate that, in EGF signalling, Grb2 regulates Stat3 activation negatively at the receptor level.