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J Bacteriol. 1998 Feb;180(3):538-46.

The yersiniabactin biosynthetic gene cluster of Yersinia enterocolitica: organization and siderophore-dependent regulation.

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  • 1Max von Pettenkofer-Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Ludwig Maximilians Universität München, Munich, Germany.


The ability to synthesize and uptake the Yersinia siderophore yersiniabactin is a hallmark of the highly pathogenic, mouse-lethal species Yersinia pestis, Y. pseudotuberculosis, and Y. enterocolitica 1B. We have identified four genes, irp1, irp3, irp4, and irp5, on a 13-kb chromosomal DNA fragment of Y. enterocolitica 08, WA-314. These genes constitute the yersiniabactin biosynthetic gene cluster together with the previously defined irp2. The irp1 gene consists of 9,486 bp capable of encoding a 3,161-amino-acid high-molecular-weight protein 1 (HMWP1) polypeptide with a predicted mass of 384.6 kDa. The first 3,000 bp of irp1 show similarity to the corresponding regions of the polyketide synthase genes of Bacillus subtilis and Streptomyces antibioticus. The remaining part of irp1 is most similar to irp2, encoding HMWP2, which might be the reason for immunological cross-reactivity of the two polypeptides. Irp4 was found to have 41.7% similarity to thioesterase-like protein of the anguibactin biosynthetic genes of Vibrio anguillarum. Irp5 shows 41% similarity to EntE, the 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid-activating enzyme utilized in enterobactin synthesis of Escherichia coli. Irp4 and Irp5 are nearly identical to YbtT and YbtE, recently identified in Y. pestis. irp3 has no similarity to any known gene. Inactivation of either irp1 or irp2 abrogates yersiniabactin synthesis. Mutations in irp1 or fyuA (encoding yersiniabactin/pesticin receptor) result in downregulation of irp2 that can be upregulated by the addition of yersiniabactin. A FyuA-green fluorescent protein translational fusion was downregulated in an irp1 mutant. Upregulation was achieved by addition of yersiniabactin but not desferal, pesticin, or pyochelin, which indicates high specificity of the FyuA receptor and autoregulation of genes involved in synthesis and uptake of yersiniabactin.

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