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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 Mar;80(6):1972-84. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03829-13. Epub 2014 Jan 17.

The global response regulator ExpA controls virulence gene expression through RsmA-mediated and RsmA-independent pathways in Pectobacterium wasabiae SCC3193.

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University of Helsinki, Department of Biosciences, Helsinki, Finland.


ExpA (GacA) is a global response regulator that controls the expression of major virulence genes, such as those encoding plant cell wall-degrading enzymes (PCWDEs) in the model soft rot phytopathogen Pectobacterium wasabiae SCC3193. Several studies with pectobacteria as well as related phytopathogenic gammaproteobacteria, such as Dickeya and Pseudomonas, suggest that the control of virulence by ExpA and its homologues is executed partly by modulating the activity of RsmA, an RNA-binding posttranscriptional regulator. To elucidate the extent of the overlap between the ExpA and RsmA regulons in P. wasabiae, we characterized both regulons by microarray analysis. To do this, we compared the transcriptomes of the wild-type strain, an expA mutant, an rsmA mutant, and an expA rsmA double mutant. The microarray data for selected virulence-related genes were confirmed through quantitative reverse transcription (qRT-PCR). Subsequently, assays were performed to link the observed transcriptome differences to changes in bacterial phenotypes such as growth, motility, PCWDE production, and virulence in planta. An extensive overlap between the ExpA and RsmA regulons was observed, suggesting that a substantial portion of ExpA regulation appears to be mediated through RsmA. However, a number of genes involved in the electron transport chain and oligogalacturonide metabolism, among other processes, were identified as being regulated by ExpA independently of RsmA. These results suggest that ExpA may only partially impact fitness and virulence via RsmA.

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