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J Bacteriol. 1995 May;177(9):2299-304.

The fliA gene encoding sigma 28 in Yersinia enterocolitica.

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  • 1Microbial Pathogenesis Unit, Universit√© Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


Yersinia enterocolitica is an enterobacterium responsible for gastrointestinal syndromes. Its pathogenicity depends on the presence of the 70-kb pYV plasmid, which directs Yop secretion. The Yop secretion machinery, consisting of the YscA-U and LcrD proteins, presents some structural similarity with the flagellum assembly machinery characterized in other bacteria. Flagellum assembly requires sigma 28, an alternative sigma factor. The region upstream of the lcrD gene resembles promoters recognized by sigma 28, suggesting that the similarity between Yop secretion and flagellum assembly could extend to their regulation. The chromosome of Y. enterocolitica also contains pathogenicity determinants such as myfA, which encodes the Myf antigen subunit. The promoter region of myfA also resembles promoters recognized by sigma 28. In an attempt to clarify the role of sigma 28 in the expression of lcrD, myfA, and flagellar genes, we cloned, sequenced, and mutagenized the fliA gene encoding the sigma 28 homolog in Y. enterocolitica. As is the case in other bacteria, fliA was required for motility. However, it was involved neither in fibrilla synthesis nor in Yop secretion. The fliA mutant allowed us to monitor the role of motility in pathogenesis. At least in the mouse model, motility seemed not to be required for Y. enterocolitica pathogenesis.

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