Meticulous control of the T3SS of Yersinia is essential for full virulence

University dissertation from Umeå : Institutionen för molekylärbiologi, Teknisk-naturvetenskaplig fakultet, Umeå universitet

Abstract: The type III secretion system (T3SS) of pathogenic Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is involved in virulence. The syringe-like secretion system spans both bacterial membranes and is responsible for the ability of Yersinia to transfer toxic proteins (Yop proteins) into the eukaryotic target cell. The T3SS is believed to have evolved from the flagellum and regulation of the T3SS is a complex event that involves a series of regulatory proteins, whereby two are YscP and YscU. In a regulatory model, called the substrate specificity switch, both proteins act together to ensure proper T3SS structure and function by regulating a stop in YscF needle protein export with a shift to Yop effector secretion. YscU undergoes autoproteolysis at a conserved motif consisting of amino acids Asparagine-Proline-Threonine-Histidine (NPTH). Processing generates a C-terminal 10 kDa peptide, YscUCC. Processing is crucial for proper T3SS regulation and function both in vitro and in vivo. Full-length YscU does not support Yop secretion and after cleavage, YscUCC remains attached to the rest of YscU and acts as a negative block on T3S. Relief of this negative block is suggested to occur through displacement of YscUCC from the rest of YscU. Thorough control of many different cellular processes is brought by the heat shock proteins (HSPs) DnaK and DnaJ. Due to their multiple regulatory functions, mutations in the hsp-genes lead to pleiotropic effects. DnaK and DnaJ are essential for proper flagellum driven motion of bacteria, but more so; they ensure proper Yersinia T3SS function in vivo. Furthermore, DnaJ interacts with YscU and may be directly involved in T3SS regulation. Virulence of Yersinia is regulated on many levels. A previously identified virulence associated protein, VagH, is now characterized as an S-adenosyl-methionine dependent methyltransferase. The targets of the methylation activity of VagH are release factors 1 and 2 (RF1 and RF2), that are important for translation termination. The enzymatic activity of VagH is important for Yop secretion and a vagH mutant up-regulates a T3SS negative regulatory protein, YopD. Furthermore, a vagH mutant is avirulent in a mouse infection model, but is not affected in macrophage intracellular survival. The importance of VagH in vivo makes it a possible target for novel antimicrobial therapy.