Piere Rodriguez-Aliaga, Luis Ramirez, Frank Kim, Carlos Bustamante & Andreas Martin
ATP-dependent proteases of the AAA+ family, including Escherichia coli ClpXP and the eukaryotic proteasome, contribute to maintenance of cellular proteostasis. ClpXP unfolds and translocates substrates into an internal degradation chamber, using cycles of alternating dwell and burst phases. The ClpX motor performs chemical transformations during the dwell and translocates the substrate in increments of 1–4 nm during the burst, but the processes occurring during these phases remain unknown. Here we characterized the complete mechanochemical cycle of ClpXP, showing that ADP release and ATP binding occur nonsequentially during the dwell, whereas ATP hydrolysis and phosphate release occur during the burst. The highly conserved translocating loops within the ClpX pore are optimized to maximize motor power generation, the coupling between chemical and mechanical tasks, and the efficiency of protein processing. Conformational resetting of these loops between consecutive bursts appears to determine ADP release from individual ATPase subunits and the overall duration of the motor's cycle.