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Res Microbiol. 2012 Sep-Oct;163(8):518-30. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2012.07.010. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Elevated CpxR~P levels repress the Ysc-Yop type III secretion system of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.


One way that Gram-negative bacteria respond to extracytoplasmic stress is through the CpxA-CpxR system. An activated CpxA sensor kinase phosphorylates the CpxR response regulator to instigate positive auto-amplification of Cpx pathway activation, as well as synthesis of various bacterial survival factors. In the absence of CpxA, human enteropathogenic Yersinia pseudotuberculosis accumulates high CpxR~P levels aided by the action of low molecular weight phosphodonors such as acetyl~P. Critically, these bacteria are also defective for plasmid-encoded Ysc-Yop-dependent type III synthesis and secretion, an essential determinant of virulence. Herein, we investigated whether elevated CpxR~P levels account for lost Ysc-Yop function. Decisively, reducing CpxR∼P in Yersinia defective for CpxA phosphatase activity - through incorporating second-site suppressor mutations in ackA-pta or cpxR - dramatically restored Ysc-Yop T3S function. Moreover, the repressive effect of accumulated CpxR∼P is a direct consequence of binding to the promoter regions of the T3S genes. Thus, Cpx pathway activation has two consequences in Yersinia; one, to maintain quality control in the bacterial envelope, and the second, to restrict ysc-yop gene expression to those occasions where it will have maximal effect.

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