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Microbiology. 2003 Sep;149(Pt 9):2385-96.

The roles of SsrA-SsrB and OmpR-EnvZ in the regulation of genes encoding the Salmonella typhimurium SPI-2 type III secretion system.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Centre for Molecular Microbiology and Infection, Imperial College London, Armstrong Road, London SW7 2AZ, UK.


The type III secretion system (TTSS) encoded by Salmonella typhimurium pathogenicity island 2 (SPI-2) is expressed after bacterial entry into host cells. The SPI-2 TTSS secretes the translocon components SseBCD, which translocate across the vacuolar membrane a number of effector proteins whose action is required for intracellular bacterial replication. Several of these effectors, including SifA and SifB, are encoded outside SPI-2. The two-component regulatory system SsrA-SsrB, encoded within SPI-2, controls the expression of components of the SPI-2 TTSS apparatus as well as its translocated effectors. The expression of SsrA-B is in turn regulated by the OmpR-EnvZ two-component system, by direct binding of OmpR to the ssrAB promoter. Several environmental signals have been shown to induce in vitro expression of genes regulated by the SsrA-B or OmpR-EnvZ systems. In this work, immunoblotting and flow cytometry were used to analyse the roles of SsrA-B and OmpR-EnvZ in coupling different environmental signals to changes in expression of a SPI-2 TTSS translocon component (SseB) and two effector genes (sifA and sifB). Using single and double mutant strains the relative contribution of each regulatory system to the response generated by low osmolarity, acidic pH or the absence of Ca2+ was determined. SsrA-B was found to be essential for the induction of SPI-2 gene expression in response to each of these individual signals. OmpR-EnvZ was found to play a minor role in sensing these signals and to require a functional SsrA-B system to mediate their effect on SPI-2 TTSS gene expression.

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