The σE pathway of extracytoplasmic stress responses in Escherichia coli is activated through sequential cleavages of the anti-σE protein, RseA, by membrane proteases DegS and RseP. Without the first cleavage by DegS, RseP is unable to cleave full-length RseA. We previously showed that a PDZ-like domain in the RseP periplasmic region is essential for this negative regulation of RseP. We now isolated additional deregulated RseP mutants. Many of the mutations affected a periplasmic region that is N-terminal to the previously defined PDZ domain. We expressed these regions and determined their crystal structures. Consistent with a recent prediction, our results indicate that RseP has tandem, circularly permutated PDZ domains (PDZ-N and PDZ-C). Strikingly, almost all the strong mutations have been mapped around the ligand binding cleft region in PDZ-N. These results together with those of an in vitro reaction reproducing the two-step RseA cleavage suggest that the proteolytic function of RseP is controlled by ligand binding to PDZ-N.