Contribution of conserved ATP-dependent proteases of Campylobacter jejuni to stress tolerance and virulence

Marianne Thorup Cohn, Hanne Ingmer, Francis Mulholland, Kirsten Jørgensen, Jerry M. Wells, Lone Brøndsted*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


In prokaryotic cells the ATP-dependent proteases Lon and ClpP (Clp proteolytic subunit) are involved in the turnover of misfolded proteins and the degradation of regulatory proteins, and depending on the organism, these proteases contribute variably to stress tolerance. We constructed mutants in the lon and clpP genes of the food-borne human pathogen Campylobacter jejuni and found that the growth of both mutants was impaired at high temperature, a condition known to increase the level of misfolded protein. Moreover, the amounts of misfolded protein aggregates were increased when both proteases were absent, and we propose that both ClpP and Lon are involved in eliminating misfolded proteins in C. jejuni. In order to bind misfolded protein, ClpP has to associate with one of several Clp ATPases. Following inactivation of the ATPase genes clpA and clpX, only the clpX mutant displayed the same heat sensitivity as the clpP mutant, indicating that the ClpXP proteolytic complex is responsible for the degradation of heat-damaged proteins in C. jejuni. Notably, ClpP and ClpX are required for growth at 42°C, which is the temperature of the intestinal tract of poultry, one of the primary carriers of C. jejuni. Thus, ClpP and ClpX may be suitable targets of new intervention strategies aimed at reducing C. jejuni in poultry production. Further characterization of the clpP and lon mutants revealed other altered phenotypes, such as reduced motility, less autoagglutination, and lower levels of invasion of INT407 epithelial cells, suggesting that the proteases may contribute to the virulence of C. jejuni.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7803-7813
Number of pages11
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


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