J. Bacteriol. 205 (11) e0022823 [2023-11-06; online 2023-11-06]
The Lon protease is widely conserved in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms and fulfills important regulatory functions. Nevertheless, the number of identified Lon substrates is limited in most organisms, and the precise role of Lon in regulating these proteins is poorly understood. Here, we describe the α-proteobacterial general stress response sigma factor σT as a novel Lon substrate in Caulobacter crescentus. Based on previously published quantitative proteomics data, we find σT to be a promising putative Lon substrate and confirm a direct role of Lon in degrading σT. We show that Lon contributes to the downregulation of σT abundance under optimal conditions and during recovery from sucrose-induced osmotic stress. Furthermore, the presence of the Lon activity regulator LarA enhances Lon-mediated degradation of σT in vitro and reduces σT levels in vivo indicating a role of LarA in modulating Lon-mediated degradation of σT. Together, our results highlight the importance of Lon during the recovery phase following stress exposure by adjusting the concentrations of critical regulators of stress responses.IMPORTANCERegulated protein degradation is a critical process in all cell types, which contributes to the precise regulation of protein amounts in response to internal and external cues. In bacteria, protein degradation is carried out by ATP-dependent proteases. Although past work revealed detailed insights into the operation principles of these proteases, there is limited knowledge about the substrate proteins that are degraded by distinct proteases and the regulatory role of proteolysis in cellular processes. This study reveals a direct role of the conserved protease Lon in regulating σT, a transcriptional regulator of the general stress response in α-proteobacteria. Our work is significant as it underscores the importance of regulated proteolysis in modulating the levels of key regulatory proteins under changing conditions.