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J Bacteriol. 2002 Sep;184(18):5130-40.

Regulatory circuitry of the CsrA/CsrB and BarA/UvrY systems of Escherichia coli.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


The global regulator CsrA (carbon storage regulator) is an RNA binding protein that coordinates central carbon metabolism, activates flagellum biosynthesis and motility, and represses biofilm formation in Escherichia coli. CsrA activity is antagonized by the untranslated RNA CsrB, to which it binds and forms a globular ribonucleoprotein complex. CsrA indirectly activates csrB transcription, in an apparent autoregulatory mechanism. In the present study, we elucidate the intermediate regulatory circuitry of this system. Mutations affecting the BarA/UvrY two-component signal transduction system decreased csrB transcription but did not affect csrA'-'lacZ expression. The uvrY defect was severalfold more severe than that of barA. Both csrA and uvrY were required for optimal barA expression. The latter observation suggests an autoregulatory loop for UvrY. Ectopic expression of uvrY suppressed the csrB-lacZ expression defects caused by uvrY, csrA, or barA mutations; csrA suppressed csrA or barA defects; and barA complemented only the barA mutation. Purified UvrY protein stimulated csrB-lacZ expression approximately sixfold in S-30 transcription-translation reactions, revealing a direct effect of UvrY on csrB transcription. Disruption of sdiA, which encodes a LuxR homologue, decreased the expression of uvrY'-'lacZ and csrB-lacZ fusions but did not affect csrA'-'lacZ. The BarA/UvrY system activated biofilm formation. Ectopic expression of uvrY stimulated biofilm formation by a csrB-null mutant, indicative of a CsrB-independent role for UvrY in biofilm development. Collectively, these results demonstrate that uvrY resides downstream from csrA in a signaling pathway for csrB and that CsrA stimulates UvrY-dependent activation of csrB expression by BarA-dependent and -independent mechanisms.

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