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Mol Microbiol. 1991 Apr;5(4):887-93.

Temperature-regulated expression of invasion genes in Shigella flexneri is controlled through the transcriptional activation of the virB gene on the large plasmid.

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Department of Bacteriology, University of Tokyo, Japan.


The invasion phenotype of shigellae is subject to thermoregulation that is known to be expressed through activation of some invasion (inv) genes such as ipaB, ipaC, and ipaD encoded by the large virulence plasmid of Shigella flexneri. The expression of ipa genes is regulated positively by virF through the activation of virB on the plasmid. To identify the mediator for the thermoregulation of the large plasmid, we have studied the effect of temperature on the transcription of virF and virB genes and ipa and the other two inv operons. The results showed that transcription of virB was affected by temperature more strictly than that of virF. Analysis of the mRNA level of virB at different levels of virF transcription indicated that virB transcription depended upon both temperature and virF. On the other hand, transcriptions of ipa and the other two inv operons depended on the activation of virB transcription but not on temperature. By inducing virB transcription from a tac promoter fused with the virB region, invasion ability was restored to a virF-deletion mutant at 30 degrees C as well as at 37 degrees C. By using conditions in which the temperature-dependent expression of the invasion phenotype was circumvented by the induction of virB transcription, intercellular spreading ability in a virF+, virB::Tn5 strain was shown to be expressed even at 30 degrees C. These results suggest that the virB transcription stage is the main target for the thermoregulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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