In prokaryotes, a conserved small RNA molecule, called tmRNA, rescues ribosomes from proteins that are abnormally truncated due to the presence of rare codons or degraded mRNA. During the rescue process, a peptide tag (SsrA) encoded by tmRNA is cotranslationally added to the truncated polypeptides, thereby targeting these proteins for proteolytic degradation. In , ClpXP and ClpAP proteases primarily degrade SsrA-tagged proteins. Other proteases such as Lon and FtsH also participate in the degradation in . However, in , ClpXP is the major protease that degrades the SsrA-tagged proteins. Degradation of SsrA-tagged protein in streptococci is not well understood except that ClpXP is responsible for the majority of the degradation. Here we show that in , in addition to ClpXP, two other Clp complexes, ClpCP and ClpEP, are also involved in the degradation. We also found that ClpCP- and ClpEP-mediated proteolysis of SsrA-tagged substrates is induced by heat stress. As ClpCP and ClpEP proteins are highly conserved in streptococci, we predicted that ClpEP- and ClpCP-mediated degradation of SsrA-tagged proteins might be operational in other streptococci.


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