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Infect Immun. 1992 Aug;60(8):3287-95.

mxiA of Shigella flexneri 2a, which facilitates export of invasion plasmid antigens, encodes a homolog of the low-calcium-response protein, LcrD, of Yersinia pestis.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799.


The plasmid-encoded invasion plasmid antigen (Ipa) export accessory locus of Shigella flexneri 2a, mxiA, was cloned, and the complete DNA sequence of the gene was determined. The mixA open reading frame was found to encode a polypeptide of 74.03 kDa with a pI of 5.02. A hydropathy analysis of the predicted protein revealed a hydrophilic C terminus and an extremely hydrophobic N terminus without a cleavable signal sequence but with several potential membrane-spanning regions. While a homology search did not reveal any significant relatedness of the mxiA DNA sequence to any known bacterial gene sequences, the derived amino acid sequence of MxiA was found to be highly homologous (68%) to the sequence of the protein encoded by the low-calcium-response locus, lcrD, of Yersinia pestis. The lcrD encodes an inner membrane regulatory protein that has an N-terminal membrane anchor and that is implicated in facilitating the export of Y. pestis outer membrane proteins (G. V. Plano, S. S. Barve, and S. C. Straley, J. Bacteriol. 173:7293-7303, 1991). Congo red binding, HeLa cell invasion, and Ipa excretion were restored in two avirulent mxiA fusion mutants when they were transformed with a cloned copy of the mxiA gene. Furthermore, the expression of the cloned mxiA gene was independent of any vector-specified promoter, suggesting that the transcription of mxiA is driven by its own promoter in this clone. In contrast, the overexpression of mxiA that resulted when it was placed under the control of the lac promoter was found to be deleterious in Escherichia coli. We conclude that mxiA is a homolog of the Y. pestis lcrD locus and may function similarly in S. flexneri, either by directly affecting the excretion of virulence factors or by regulating the expression of export accessory genes.

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