Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Microbiology & Immunology

First Advisor

Gail E. Christie


A newly discovered cysteine protease, Prp, has been shown to perform an essential, site-specific cleavage of ribosomal protein L27 in Staphylococcus aureus. In Firmicutes and related bacteria, ribosomal protein L27 is encoded with a conserved N-terminal extension that must be removed to expose residues critical for ribosome function. Uncleavable and pre-cleaved variants were unable to complement an L27 deletion in S. aureus, indicating that this N-terminal processing event is essential and likely plays an important regulatory role. The gene encoding the responsible protease (prp) has been shown to be essential, and is found in all organisms encoding the N-terminal extension of L27. Cleavage of L27 by Prp represents a new target for potential antibiotic therapy. In order to characterize this protease, Prp has been overexpressed and purified. Using an assay we have developed, based on cleavage of a fluorogenic peptide derived from the conserved L27 cleavage sequence, we have undertaken an analysis of the enzyme kinetics and substrate specificity for Prp cleavage and tested predictions made based on a structural model using active-site mutants.


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