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J Bacteriol. 1989 Jan;171(1):254-62.

Homology between virF, the transcriptional activator of the Yersinia virulence regulon, and AraC, the Escherichia coli arabinose operon regulator.

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Unité de Microbiologie, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


Virulent yersiniae (Yersinia pestis, Y. pseudotuberculosis, and Y. enterocolitica) restrict their growth at 37 degrees C in rich medium deprived of calcium. This property, called calcium dependency, correlates with the secretion of Yersinia outer membrane proteins (Yops) and with pathogenicity. It is mediated by a 70-kilobase plasmid called pYV. The structural genes of the Yops (yop genes), as well as genes involved in the control of their expression (vir genes), have been localized on pYV. In this communication we show that virF encodes a transcriptional activator controlling the yop regulon. This activator is a 30,879-dalton protein related to AraC, the regulator of the Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium arabinose operons. We also show in this paper that transcription of virF is thermodependent and presumably autoregulated. virF is thus responsible for the effect of temperature on the production of the Yops. Finally, we show that virF activates transcription of the yop genes independently of the presence of calcium ions. The role of calcium therefore remains unaccounted for.

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