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Environ Microbiol. 2019 Dec;21(12):4822-4835. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14831. Epub 2019 Nov 10.

Identification of flavonoids as regulators of YbeY activity in Liberibacter asiaticus.

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Microbiology and Cell Science Department, Genetics Institute, Institute of Food and Agricultural Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.


Liberibacter asiaticus is the prevalent causative pathogen of Huanglongbing or citrus greening disease, which has resulted in a devastating crisis in the citrus industry. A thorough understanding of this pathogen's physiology and mechanisms to control cell survival is critical in the identification of therapeutic targets. YbeY is a highly conserved bacterial RNase that has been implicated in multiple roles. In this study, we evaluated the biochemical characteristics of the L. asiaticus YbeY (CLIBASIA_01560) and assessed its potential as a target for antimicrobials. YbeYLas was characterized as an endoribonuclease with activity on 3' and 5' termini of 16S and 23S rRNAs, and the capacity to suppress the E. coli ΔybeY phenotype. We predicted the YbeYLas protein:ligand interface and subsequently identified a flavone compound, luteolin, as a selective inhibitor. Site-directed mutagenesis was subsequently used to identify key residues involved in the catalytic activity of YbeYLas. Further evaluation of naturally occurring flavonoids in citrus trees indicated that both flavones and flavonols had potent inhibitory effects on YbeYLas . Luteolin was subsequently examined for efficacy against L. asiaticus in Huanglongbing-infected citrus trees, where a significant reduction in L. asiaticus gene expression was observed.


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