• protease;
  • regulatory proteolysis;
  • signal;
  • morphogenesis;
  • differentiation;
  • cell cycle


Bacteria use proteases to control three types of events temporally and spatially during the processes of morphological development. These events are the destruction of regulatory proteins, activation of regulatory proteins, and production of signals. While some of these events are entirely cytoplasmic, others involve intramembrane proteolysis of a substrate, transmembrane signaling, or secretion. In some cases, multiple proteolytic events are organized into pathways, for example turnover of a regulatory protein activates a protease that generates a signal. We review well-studied and emerging examples and identify recurring themes and important questions for future research. We focus primarily on paradigms learned from studies of model organisms, but we note connections to regulated proteolytic events that govern bacterial adaptation, biofilm formation and disassembly, and pathogenesis.