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Mol Microbiol. 2012 Jul;85(2):195-200. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08119.x. Epub 2012 Jun 14.

Multiple lessons from the multiple functions of a regulator of type III secretion system assembly in the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae.

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Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The assembly of type III secretion systems (T3SSs), which inject bacterial effector proteins into the cytosol of animal and plant hosts, is a highly regulated process. Animal pathogens use a length-control protein to produce T3SS needles of fixed length and then a second regulator, such as YopN in Yersinia spp, to mediate host contact-dependent effector delivery. For Pseudomonas syringae and other plant pathogens, regulation of the assembly process differs because the T3SS pilus must grow through variably thick plant cell walls before contacting the host plasma membrane. In this issue of Molecular Microbiology, Crabill et al. (2012) report evidence that the YopN homologue HrpJ is a multifunctional regulator of T3SS assembly in DC3000. A hrpJ mutant hyper-secretes pilus protein and no longer secretes four translocator proteins in culture, and it fails to inject effectors in planta. As with other proteins in this class, HrpJ is itself a T3SS substrate, but secretion-incompetent forms retain regulatory function. However, HrpJ is unusual in suppressing innate immune responses within host cells, as demonstrated with transgenic plants. The multiple capabilities of HrpJ appear to couple host contact sensing with pilus length control and translocator secretion while also contributing to immunity suppression early in the interaction.

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