A seven-amino-acid cleavage site specific for tobacco etch virus (TEV) protease was introduced into SecA at two separate positions after amino acids 195 and 252. Chromosomal wild-type secA was replaced by these secA constructs. Simultaneous expression of TEV protease led to cleavage of both SecA derivatives. In the functional SecA dimer, proteolysis directly indicated surface exposure of the TEV protease cleavage sites. Cleavage of SecA near residue 195 generated an unstable proteolysis product and a secretion defect, suggesting that this approach could be used to inactivate essential proteins in vivo.