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J Biol Chem. 2005 Jan 7;280(1):156-63. Epub 2004 Oct 26.

Modulation of yersinia type three secretion system by the S1 domain of polynucleotide phosphorylase.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Miami School of Medicine, Florida 33101, USA.


Both low temperatures and encounters with host phagocytes are two stresses that have been relatively well studied in many species of bacteria. Previous work has shown that the exoribonuclease polynucleotide phosphorylase (PNPase) is required for Yersiniae to grow at low temperatures. Here, we show that PNPase also enhances the ability of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Yersinia pestis to withstand the killing activities of murine macrophages. PNPase is required for the optimal functioning of the Yersinia type three secretion system (TTSS), an organelle that injects effector proteins directly into host cells. Unexpectedly, the effect of PNPase on the TTSS is independent of its ribonuclease activity and instead requires its S1 RNA binding domain. In contrast, catalytically inactive enzyme does not enhance the low temperature growth effect of PNPase. Surprisingly, wild-type-like TTSS functioning was restored to the pnp mutant strain by expressing just the approximately 70 amino acid S1 domains from either PNPase, RNase R, RNase II, or RpsA. Our findings suggest that PNPase plays multifaceted roles in enhancing Yersinia survival in response to stressful conditions.

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