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Summary

Energy-dependent proteases ensure the timely removal of unwanted proteins in a highly selective fashion. In Caulobacter crescentus, protein degradation by the ClpXP protease is critical for cell cycle progression; however, only a handful of substrates are currently known. Here, we use a trapping approach to identify putative substrates of the ClpP associated proteases in C. crescentus. Biochemical validation of several of these targets reveals specific protease recognition motifs and suggests a need for ClpXP-specific degradation beyond degradation of known cell cycle regulators. We focus on a particular instance of regulated proteolysis in Caulobacter by exploring the role of ClpXP in degrading the stalk synthesis transcription factor TacA. We show that TacA degradation is controlled during the cell cycle dependent on the ClpXP regulator CpdR and that stabilization of TacA increases degradation of another ClpXP substrate, CtrA, while restoring deficiencies associated with prolific CpdR activity. Together, our work reveals a number of new validated ClpXP substrates, clarifies rules of protease substrate selection, and demonstrates how regulated protein degradation is critical for Caulobacter development and cell cycle progression.