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1.  Analysis of Putative Chlamydia trachomatis Chaperones Scc2 and Scc3 and Their Use in the Identification of Type III Secretion Substrates 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(18):6466-6478.
The obligate intracellular pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis expresses a type III secretion system (T3SS) which has the potential to contribute significantly to pathogenesis. Based on a demonstrated role of type III secretion (T3S)-specific chaperones in the secretion of antihost proteins by gram-negative pathogens, we initiated a study of selected putative Chlamydia T3S chaperones in an effort to gain mechanistic insight into the Chlamydia T3SS and to potentially identify Chlamydia-specific secreted products. C. trachomatis Scc2 and Scc3 are homologous to SycD of Yersinia spp. Functional studies of the heterologous Yersinia T3SS indicated that although neither Scc2 nor Scc3 was able to fully complement a sycD null mutant, both have SycD-like characteristics. Both were able to associate with the translocator protein YopD, and Scc3 expression restored limited secretion of YopD in in vitro studies of T3S. CopB (CT578) and CopB2 (CT861) are encoded adjacent to scc2 and scc3, respectively, and have structural similarities with the YopB family of T3S translocators. Either Scc2 or Scc3 coprecipitates with CopB from C. trachomatis extracts. Expression of CopB or CopB2 in Yersinia resulted in their type III-dependent secretion, and localization studies with C. trachomatis-infected cells indicated that both were secreted by Chlamydia.
PMCID: PMC1236624  PMID: 16159780
2.  Evidence for alternative quaternary structure in a bacterial Type III secretion system chaperone 
Type III secretion systems are a common virulence mechanism in many Gram-negative bacterial pathogens. These systems use a nanomachine resembling a molecular needle and syringe to provide an energized conduit for the translocation of effector proteins from the bacterial cytoplasm to the host cell cytoplasm for the benefit of the pathogen. Prior to translocation specialized chaperones maintain proper effector protein conformation. The class II chaperone, Invasion plasmid gene (Ipg) C, stabilizes two pore forming translocator proteins. IpgC exists as a functional dimer to facilitate the mutually exclusive binding of both translocators.
In this study, we present the 3.3 Å crystal structure of an amino-terminally truncated form (residues 10-155, denoted IpgC10-155) of the class II chaperone IpgC from Shigella flexneri. Our structure demonstrates an alternative quaternary arrangement to that previously described for a carboxy-terminally truncated variant of IpgC (IpgC1-151). Specifically, we observe a rotationally-symmetric "head-to- head" dimerization interface that is far more similar to that previously described for SycD from Yersinia enterocolitica than to IpgC1-151. The IpgC structure presented here displays major differences in the amino terminal region, where extended coil-like structures are seen, as opposed to the short, ordered alpha helices and asymmetric dimerization interface seen within IpgC1-151. Despite these differences, however, both modes of dimerization support chaperone activity, as judged by a copurification assay with a recombinant form of the translocator protein, IpaB.
From primary to quaternary structure, these results presented here suggest that a symmetric dimerization interface is conserved across bacterial class II chaperones. In light of previous data which have described the structure and function of asymmetric dimerization, our results raise the possibility that class II chaperones may transition between asymmetric and symmetric dimers in response to changes in either biochemical modifications (e.g. proteolytic cleavage) or other biological cues. Such transitions may contribute to the broad range of protein-protein interactions and functions attributed to class II chaperones.
PMCID: PMC2912912  PMID: 20633281
3.  Dimerization of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa Translocator Chaperone PcrH Is Required for Stability, Not Function 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(21):4836-4843.
Type III secretion systems rely on hydrophobic translocator proteins that form a pore in the host cell membrane to deliver effector proteins into targeted host cells. These translocator proteins are stabilized in the cytoplasm and targeted for export with the help of specific chaperone proteins. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the chaperone of the pore-forming translocator proteins is PcrH. Although all translocator chaperones dimerize, the location of the dimerization interface is in dispute. Moreover, it has been reported that interfering with dimerization interferes with chaperone function. However, binding of P. aeruginosa chaperone PcrH to its cognate secretion substrate, PopD, results in dissociation of the PcrH dimer in vitro, arguing that dimerization of PcrH is likely not important for substrate binding or targeting translocators for export. We demonstrate that PcrH dimerization occurs in vivo in P. aeruginosa and used a genetic screen to identify a dimerization mutant of PcrH. The mutant protein is fully functional in that it can both stabilize PopB and PopD in the cytoplasm and promote their export via the type III secretion system. The location of the mutation suggests that the dimerization interface of PcrH mirrors that of the Yersinia homolog SycD and not the dimerization interface that had previously been reported for PcrH based on crystallographic evidence. Finally, we present data that the dimerization mutant of PcrH is less stable than the wild-type protein in P. aeruginosa, suggesting that the function of dimerization is stabilization of PcrH in the absence of its cognate cargo.
PMCID: PMC3807485  PMID: 23974025
4.  The Yersinia Yop Virulon: LcrV Is Required for Extrusion of the Translocators YopB and YopD 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(5):1207-1214.
LcrV, an essential piece of the Yop virulon, is encoded by the large lcrGVsycDyopBD operon. In spite of repeated efforts, the role of LcrV in the Yop virulon remains elusive. In an attempt to clarify this, we engineered a complete deletion of lcrV in the pYV plasmid of Yersinia enterocolitica E40 and characterized the phenotype of the mutant. Complementation experiments showed that the mutation was not polar with regard to yopB and yopD. Nevertheless the mutation abolished secretion of YopB and YopD, while secretion of the other Yops was unaffected or even increased. Northern blot analysis showed that transcription of yopD was not affected. YopD could be detected inside the bacteria, showing that the lack of its secretion was not due to a lack of translation or to proteolysis. This indicated that LcrV is specifically involved in the process of release of YopB and YopD. We then investigated the possible interactions between LcrV and YopB or YopD. We constructed a glutathione S-transferase–LcrV hybrid protein, and we observed that either YopB or YopD could be copurified with it. The same approach showed that LcrV also interacts with LcrG but not with the chaperone SycD. Using deletants of lcrV, we then identified a definite LcrG-binding domain in the C terminus of LcrV.
PMCID: PMC107009  PMID: 9495760
5.  YopD of Yersinia pestis Plays a Role in Negative Regulation of the Low-Calcium Response in Addition to Its Role in Translocation of Yops 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(2):350-358.
Yersinia pestis produces a set of virulence proteins (Yops and LcrV) that are expressed at high levels and secreted by a type III secretion system (Ysc) upon bacterium-host cell contact, and four of the Yops are vectorially translocated into eukaryotic cells. YopD, YopB, and YopK are required for the translocation process. In vitro, induction and secretion occur at 37°C in the absence of calcium. LcrH (also called SycD), a protein required for the stability and secretion of YopD, had initially been identified as a negative regulator of Yop expression. In this study, we constructed a yopD mutation in both wild-type and secretion-defective (ysc) Y. pestis to determine if the lcrH phenotype could be attributed to the decreased stability of YopD. These mutants were constitutively induced for expression of Yops and LcrV, despite the presence of the secreted negative regulator LcrQ, demonstrating that YopD is involved in negative regulation, regardless of a functioning Ysc system. Normally, secretion of Yops and LcrV is blocked in the presence of calcium. The single yopD mutant was not completely effective in blocking secretion: LcrV was secreted equally well in the presence and absence of calcium, while there was partial secretion of Yops in the presence of calcium. YopD is probably not rate limiting for negative regulation, as increasing levels of YopD did not result in decreased Yop expression. Overexpression of LcrQ in the yopD mutant had no significant effect on Yop expression, whereas increased levels of LcrQ in the parent resulted in decreased levels of Yops. These results indicate that LcrQ requires YopD to function as a negative regulator.
PMCID: PMC106890  PMID: 9440524
6.  The Yersinia enterocolitica type three secretion chaperone SycO is integrated into the Yop regulatory network and binds to the Yop secretion protein YscM1 
BMC Microbiology  2007;7:67.
Pathogenic yersiniae (Y. pestis, Y. pseudotuberculosis, Y. enterocolitica) share a virulence plasmid encoding a type three secretion system (T3SS). This T3SS comprises more than 40 constituents. Among these are the transport substrates called Yops (Yersinia outer proteins), the specific Yop chaperones (Sycs), and the Ysc (Yop secretion) proteins which form the transport machinery. The effectors YopO and YopP are encoded on an operon together with SycO, the chaperone of YopO. The characterization of SycO is the focus of this study.
We have established the large-scale production of recombinant SycO in its outright form. We confirm that Y. enterocolitica SycO forms homodimers which is typical for Syc chaperones. SycO overproduction in Y. enterocolitica decreases secretion of Yops into the culture supernatant suggesting a regulatory role of SycO in type III secretion. We demonstrate that in vitro SycO interacts with YscM1, a negative regulator of Yop expression in Y. enterocolitica. However, the SycO overproduction phenotype was not mediated by YscM1, YscM2, YopO or YopP as revealed by analysis of isogenic deletion mutants.
We present evidence that SycO is integrated into the regulatory network of the Yersinia T3SS. Our picture of the Yersinia T3SS interactome is supplemented by identification of the SycO/YscM1 interaction. Further, our results suggest that at least one additional interaction partner of SycO has to be identified.
PMCID: PMC1933539  PMID: 17612396
7.  Competition between the Yops of Yersinia enterocolitica for Delivery into Eukaryotic Cells: Role of the SycE Chaperone Binding Domain of YopE 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(17):4811-4821.
A type III secretion-translocation system allows Yersinia adhering at the surface of animal cells to deliver a cocktail of effector Yops (YopH, -O, -P, -E, -M, and -T) into the cytosol of these cells. Residues or codons 1 to 77 contain all the information required for the complete delivery of YopE into the target cell (release from the bacterium and translocation across the eukaryotic cell membrane). Residues or codons 1 to 15 are sufficient for release from the wild-type bacterium under Ca2+-chelating conditions but not for delivery into target cells. Residues 15 to 50 comprise the binding domain for SycE, a chaperone specific for YopE that is necessary for release and translocation of full-length YopE. To understand the role of this chaperone, we studied the delivery of YopE-Cya reporter proteins and YopE deletants by polymutant Yersinia devoid of most of the Yop effectors (ΔHOPEM and ΔTHE strains). We first tested YopE-Cya hybrid proteins and YopE proteins deleted of the SycE-binding site. In contrast to wild-type strains, these mutants delivered YopE15-Cya as efficiently as YopE130-Cya. They were also able to deliver YopEΔ17–77. SycE was dispensable for these deliveries. These results show that residues or codons 1 to 15 are sufficient for delivery into eukaryotic cells and that there is no specific translocation signal in Yops. However, the fact that the SycE-binding site and SycE were necessary for delivery of YopE by wild-type Yersinia suggests that they could introduce hierarchy among the effectors to be delivered. We then tested a YopE-Cya hybrid and YopE proteins deleted of amino acids 2 to 15 but containing the SycE-binding domain. These constructs were neither released in vitro upon Ca2+ chelation nor delivered into cells by wild-type or polymutant bacteria, casting doubts on the hypothesis that SycE could be a secretion pilot. Finally, it appeared that residues 50 to 77 are inhibitory to YopE release and that binding of SycE overcomes this inhibitory effect. Removal of this domain allowed in vitro release and delivery in cells in the absence as well as in the presence of SycE.
PMCID: PMC111358  PMID: 10940022
8.  Identification of Substrates and Chaperone from the Yersinia enterocolitica 1B Ysa Type III Secretion System  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(1):242-253.
All pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica strains carry the pYV plasmid encoding the Ysc-Yop type III secretion (TTS) system, which operates at 37°C. In addition, biovar 1B Y. enterocolitica strains possess a second, chromosomally encoded, TTS system called Ysa, which operates, at least in vitro, under low-temperature and high-salt (LTHS) conditions. Six open reading frames, sycB, yspB, yspC, yspD, yspA, and acpY, neighbor the ysa genes encoding the Ysa TTS apparatus. Here we show that YspA, YspB, YspC, and YspD are secreted by the Ysa TTS system under LTHS conditions. SycB is a chaperone for YspB and YspC and stabilizes YspB. YspB, YspC, and SycB share some similarity with TTS substrates and the chaperone encoded by the Mxi-Spa locus of Shigella flexneri and SPI-1 of Salmonella enterica. In addition, Ysa also secretes the pYV-encoded YopE under LTHS conditions, indicating that YopE is a potential effector of both Y. enterocolitica TTS systems. YspC could also be secreted by S. flexneri, but no functional complementation of ipaC was observed, which indicates that despite their similarity the Ysa and the Mxi-Spa systems are not interchangeable. When expressed from the yopE promoter, YspB and YspC could also be secreted via the Ysc injectisome. However, they could not form detectable pores in eukaryotic target cells and could not substitute for YopB and YopD for translocation of Yop effectors.
PMCID: PMC143280  PMID: 12496172
9.  Binding of SycH Chaperone to YscM1 and YscM2 Activates Effector yop Expression in Yersinia enterocolitica 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(3):829-841.
Yersinia enterocolitica transports YscM1 and YscM2 via the type III pathway, a mechanism that is required for the establishment of bacterial infections. Prior to host cell contact, YscM1 and YscM2 exert posttranscriptional regulation to inhibit expression of effector yop genes, which encode virulence factors that travel the type III pathway into the cytoplasm of macrophages. Relief from repression has been predicted to occur via the type III secretion of YscM1 and YscM2 into the extracellular medium, resulting in the depletion of regulatory molecules from the bacterial cytoplasm. Using digitonin fractionation and fluorescence microscopy of FlAsH-labeled polypeptides in Yersinia-infected cells, we have localized YscM1 and YscM2 within the host cell cytoplasm. Type III injection of YscM1 and YscM2 required the SycH chaperone. Expression of C-terminal fusions of YscM1 and YscM2 to the neomycin phosphotransferase reporter revealed sequences required for regulatory activity and for secretion in the absence of SycH. Coexpression of SycH and glutathione S-transferase (GST)-YscM1 or GST-YscM2, hybrid GST variants that cannot be transported by the type III apparatus, also relieved repression of Yop synthesis. GST-SycH bound to YscM1 and YscM2 and activated effector yop expression without initiation of the bound regulatory molecules into the type III pathway. Further, regulation of yop expression by YscM1, YscM2, and SycH is shown to act independently of factors that regulate secretion, and gel filtration chromotography revealed populations of YscM1 and YscM2 that are not bound to SycH under conditions where Yop synthesis is repressed. Taken together, these results suggest that YscM1- and YscM2-mediated repression may be relieved through binding to the cytoplasmic chaperone SycH prior to their type III injection into host cells.
PMCID: PMC321491  PMID: 14729710
10.  The SycN/YscB chaperone-binding domain of YopN is required for the calcium-dependent regulation of Yop secretion by Yersinia pestis 
Numerous Gram-negative bacterial pathogens employ type III secretion systems (T3SSs) to inject effector proteins into eukaryotic cells. The activation of the type III secretion (T3S) process is tightly controlled in all T3SSs. In Yersinia pestis, the secretion of effector proteins, termed Yersinia outer proteins (Yops), is regulated by the activity of the YopN/SycN/YscB/TyeA complex. YopN is a secreted protein that interacts with the SycN/YscB chaperone via an N-terminal chaperone-binding domain (CBD) and with TyeA via a C-terminal TyeA-binding domain (TBD). Efficient YopN secretion is dependent upon its N-terminal secretion signal (SS), CBD, and the SycN/YscB chaperone. In this study, we investigate the role of the YopN CBD in the regulation of Yop secretion. Analysis of YopE/YopN hybrid proteins in which the YopN SS or SS and CBD were replaced with the analogous regions of YopE indicated that the YopN CBD or SycN/YscB chaperone play a role in the regulation of Yop secretion that is independent of their established roles in YopN secretion. To further analyze the role of the YopN CBD in the regulation of Yop secretion a series of tetra-alanine substitution mutants were generated throughout the YopN CBD. A number of these mutants exhibited a defect in the regulation of Yop secretion but showed no defect in YopN secretion or in the interaction of YopN with the SycN/YscB chaperone. Finally, conditions were established that enabled YopN and TyeA to regulate Yop secretion in the absence of the SycN/YscB chaperone. Importantly, a number of the YopN CBD mutants maintained their defect in the regulation of Yop secretion even under the established SycN/YscB chaperone-independent conditions. These studies establish a role for the CBD region of YopN in the regulation of Yop secretion that is independent from its role in YopN secretion or in the binding of the SycN/YscB chaperone.
PMCID: PMC3553376  PMID: 23355975
type III secretion; chaperone; bacterial pathogenesis; Yersinia pestis; plague
11.  Direct and negative regulation of the sycO-ypkA-ypoJ operon by cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP) in Yersinia pestis 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:178.
Pathogenic yersiniae, including Y. pestis, share a type III secretion system (T3SS) that is composed of a secretion machinery, a set of translocation proteins, a control system, and six Yop effector proteins including YpkA and YopJ. The cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP), a global regulator, was recently found to regulate the laterally acquired genes (pla and pst) in Y. pestis. The regulation of T3SS components by CRP is unknown.
The sycO, ypkA and yopJ genes constitute a single operon in Y. pestis. CRP specifically binds to the promoter-proximate region of sycO, and represses the expression of the sycO-ypkA-yopJ operon. A single CRP-dependent promoter is employed for the sycO-ypkA-yopJ operon, but two CRP binding sites (site 1 and site 2) are detected within the promoter region. A CRP box homologue is found in site 1 other than site 2. The determination of CRP-binding sites, transcription start site and core promoter element (-10 and -35 regions) promotes us to depict the structural organization of CRP-dependent promoter, giving a map of CRP-promoter DNA interaction for sycO-ypkA-yopJ.
The sycO-ypkA-yopJ operon is under the direct and negative regulation of CRP in Y. pestis. The sycO-ypkA-yopJ promoter-proximate regions are extremely conserved in Y. pestis, Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. enterocolitica. Therefore, data presented here can be generally applied to the above three pathogenic yersiniae.
PMCID: PMC2738681  PMID: 19703315
12.  A Solvent-Exposed Patch in Chaperone-Bound YopE Is Required for Translocation by the Type III Secretion System▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(12):3114-3122.
Most effector proteins of bacterial type III secretion (T3S) systems require chaperone proteins for translocation into host cells. Such effectors are bound by chaperones in a conserved and characteristic manner, with the chaperone-binding (Cb) region of the effector wound around the chaperone in a highly extended conformation. This conformation has been suggested to serve as a translocation signal in promoting the association between the chaperone-effector complex and a bacterial component required for translocation. We sought to test a prediction of this model by identifying a potential association site for the Yersinia pseudotuberculosis chaperone-effector pair SycE-YopE. We identified a set of residues in the YopE Cb region that are required for translocation but are dispensable for expression, SycE binding, secretion into the extrabacterial milieu, and stability in mammalian cells. These residues form a solvent-exposed patch on the surface of the chaperone-bound Cb region, and thus their effect on translocation is consistent with the structure of the chaperone-bound Cb region serving as a signal for translocation.
PMCID: PMC2901707  PMID: 20382763
13.  The Virulence Plasmid of Yersinia, an Antihost Genome 
The 70-kb virulence plasmid enables Yersinia spp. (Yersinia pestis, Y. pseudotuberculosis, and Y. enterocolitica) to survive and multiply in the lymphoid tissues of their host. It encodes the Yop virulon, an integrated system allowing extracellular bacteria to disarm the cells involved in the immune response, to disrupt their communications, or even to induce their apoptosis by the injection of bacterial effector proteins. This system consists of the Yop proteins and their dedicated type III secretion apparatus, called Ysc. The Ysc apparatus is composed of some 25 proteins including a secretin. Most of the Yops fall into two groups. Some of them are the intracellular effectors (YopE, YopH, YpkA/YopO, YopP/YopJ, YopM, and YopT), while the others (YopB, YopD, and LcrV) form the translocation apparatus that is deployed at the bacterial surface to deliver the effectors into the eukaryotic cells, across their plasma membrane. Yop secretion is triggered by contact with eukaryotic cells and controlled by proteins of the virulon including YopN, TyeA, and LcrG, which are thought to form a plug complex closing the bacterial secretion channel. The proper operation of the system also requires small individual chaperones, called the Syc proteins, in the bacterial cytosol. Transcription of the genes is controlled both by temperature and by the activity of the secretion apparatus. The virulence plasmid of Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis also encodes the adhesin YadA. The virulence plasmid contains some evolutionary remnants including, in Y. enterocolitica, an operon encoding resistance to arsenic compounds.
PMCID: PMC98948  PMID: 9841674
14.  Regulated Secretion of YopN by the Type III Machinery of Yersinia enterocolitica 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(18):5293-5301.
During infection, Yersinia enterocolitica exports Yop proteins via a type III secretion pathway. Secretion is activated when the environmental concentration of calcium ions is below 100 μM (low-calcium response). Yersiniae lacking yopN (lcrE), yscB, sycN, or tyeA do not inactivate the type III pathway even when the concentration of calcium is above 100 μM (calcium-blind phenotype). Purified YscB and SycN proteins form cytoplasmic complexes that bind a region including amino acids 16 to 100 of YopN, whereas TyeA binds YopN residues 101 to 294. Translational fusion of yopN gene sequences to the 5′ end of the npt reporter generates hybrid proteins that are transported by the type III pathway. The signal necessary and sufficient for the type III secretion of hybrid proteins is located within the first 15 codons of yopN. Expression of plasmid-borne yopN, but not of yopN1–294-npt, complements the calcium-blind phenotype of yopN mutants. Surprisingly, yopN mutants respond to environmental changes in calcium concentration and secrete YopN1–294-Npt in the absence but not in the presence of calcium. tyeA is required for the low-calcium regulation of YopN1–294-Npt secretion, whereas sycN and yscB mutants fail to secrete YopN1–294-Npt in the presence of calcium. Experiments with yopN-npt fusions identified two other signals that regulate the secretion of YopN. yopN codons 16 to 100 prevent the entry of YopN into the type III pathway, a negative regulatory effect that is overcome by expression of yscB and sycN. The portion of YopN encoded by codons 101 to 294 prevents transport of the polypeptide across the bacterial double membrane envelope in the presence of functional tyeA. These data support a model whereby YopN transport may serve as a regulatory mechanism for the activity of the type III pathway. YscB/SycN binding facilitates the initiation of YopN into the type III pathway, whereas TyeA binding prevents transport of the polypeptide across the bacterial envelope. Changes in the environmental calcium concentration relieve the TyeA-mediated regulation, triggering YopN transport and activating the type III pathway.
PMCID: PMC95411  PMID: 11514512
15.  Yersinia enterocolitica type III secretion: Evidence for the ability to transport proteins that are folded prior to secretion 
BMC Microbiology  2004;4:27.
Pathogenic Yersinia species (Y. enterocolitica, Y. pestis, Y. pseudotuberculosis) share a type three secretion system (TTSS) which allows translocation of effector proteins (called Yops) into host cells. It is believed that proteins are delivered through a hollow needle with an inner diameter of 2–3 nm. Thus transport seems to require substrates which are essentially unfolded. Recent work from different groups suggests that the Yersinia TTSS cannot accommodate substrates which are folded prior to secretion. It was suggested that folding is prevented either by co-translational secretion or by the assistance of specific Yop chaperones (called Sycs).
In this study we have fused YopE secretion signals of various length to the mouse dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) in order to analyse the DHFR folding state prior to secretion. We could demonstrate that secretion-deficient as well as secretion-competent YopE-DHFR fusions complexed to SycE can be efficiently purified from Yersinia cytosol by affinity chromatography using methotrexate-agarose. This implies the folding of the DHFR fusion moiety despite SycE binding and contradicts the previously presented model of folding inhibition by chaperone binding. Secretion-deficient YopE-DHFR fusions caused severe jamming of the TTSS. This observation contradicts the co-translational secretion model.
We present evidence that the Yersinia TTSS is familiar with the processing of transport substrates which are folded prior to secretion. We therefore predict that an unfoldase is involved in type III secretion.
PMCID: PMC471551  PMID: 15248901
16.  Functionally Essential Interaction between Yersinia YscO and the T3S4 Domain of YscP 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(20):4631-4638.
The type III secretion (T3S) system is essential to the virulence of a large number of Gram-negative bacterial pathogens, including Yersinia. YscO is required for T3S in Yersinia and is known to interact with several other T3S proteins, including the chaperone SycD and the needle length regulator YscP. To define which interactions of YscO are required for T3S, we pursued model-guided mutagenesis: three conserved and surface-exposed regions of modeled YscO were targeted for multiple alanine substitutions. Most of the mutations abrogated T3S and did so in a recessive manner, consistent with a loss of function. Both functional and nonfunctional YscO mutant proteins interacted with SycD, indicating that the mutations had not affected protein stability. Likewise, both functional and nonfunctional versions of YscO were exclusively intrabacterial. Functional and nonfunctional versions of YscO were, however, distinguishable with respect to interaction with YscP. This interaction was observed only for wild-type YscO and a T3S-proficient mutant of YscO but not for the several T3S-deficient mutants of YscO. Evidence is presented that the YscO-YscP interaction is direct and that the type III secretion substrate specificity switch (T3S4) domain of YscP is sufficient for this interaction. These results provide evidence that the interaction of YscO with YscP, and in particular the T3S4 domain of YscP, is essential to type III secretion.
PMCID: PMC3807450  PMID: 23935040
17.  Essential Role of the SycP Chaperone in Type III Secretion of the YspP Effector▿ §  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;191(5):1703-1715.
The Ysa type III secretion (T3S) system enhances gastrointestinal infection by Yersinia enterocolitica bv. 1B. One effector protein targeted into host cells is YspP, a protein tyrosine phosphatase. It was determined in this study that the secretion of YspP requires a chaperone, SycP. Genetic analysis showed that deletion of sycP completely abolished the secretion of YspP without affecting the secretion of other Ysps by the Ysa T3S system. Analysis of the secretion and translocation signals of YspP defined the first 73 amino acids to form the minimal region of YspP necessary to promote secretion and translocation by the Ysa T3S system. Function of the YspP secretion/translocation signals was dependent on SycP. Curiously, when YspP was constitutively expressed in Y. enterocolitica bv. 1B, it was recognized and secreted by the Ysc T3S system and the flagellar T3S system. In these cases, the first 21 amino acids were sufficient to promote secretion, and while SycP did enhance secretion, it was not essential. However, neither the Ysc T3S system nor the flagellar T3S system translocated YspP into mammalian cells. This supports a model where SycP confers secretion/translocation specificities for YspP by the Ysa T3S system. A series of biochemical approaches further established that SycP specifically interacts with YspP and protected YspP degradation in the cell prior to secretion. Collectively, the evidence suggests that YspP secretion by the Ysa T3S system is a posttranslational event.
PMCID: PMC2648209  PMID: 19114483
18.  YscB of Yersinia pestis Functions as a Specific Chaperone for YopN 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(18):4912-4921.
Following contact with a eucaryotic cell, Yersinia species pathogenic for humans (Y. pestis, Y. pseudotuberculosis, and Y. enterocolitica) export and translocate a distinct set of virulence proteins (YopE, YopH, YopJ, YopM, and YpkA) from the bacterium into the eucaryotic cell. During in vitro growth at 37°C in the presence of calcium, Yop secretion is blocked; however, in the absence of calcium, Yop secretion is triggered. Yop secretion occurs via a plasmid-encoded type III, or “contact-dependent,” secretion system. The secreted YopN (also known as LcrE), TyeA, and LcrG proteins are necessary to prevent Yop secretion in the presence of calcium and prior to contact with a eucaryotic cell. In this paper we characterize the role of the yscB gene product in the regulation of Yop secretion in Y. pestis. A yscB deletion mutant secreted YopM and V antigen both in the presence and in the absence of calcium; however, the export of YopN was specifically reduced in this strain. Complementation with a functional copy of yscB in trans completely restored the wild-type secretion phenotype for YopM, YopN, and V antigen. The YscB amino acid sequence showed significant similarities to those of SycE and SycH, the specific Yop chaperones for YopE and YopH, respectively. Protein cross-linking and immunoprecipitation studies demonstrated a specific interaction between YscB and YopN. In-frame deletions in yopN eliminating the coding region for amino acids 51 to 85 or 6 to 100 prevented the interaction of YopN with YscB. Taken together, these results indicate that YscB functions as a specific chaperone for YopN in Y. pestis.
PMCID: PMC107517  PMID: 9733695
19.  Yersinia enterocolitica Type III Secretion: yscM1 and yscM2 Regulate yop Gene Expression by a Posttranscriptional Mechanism That Targets the 5′ Untranslated Region of yop mRNA 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(21):5880-5893.
Pathogenic Yersinia spp. secrete Yops (Yersinia outer proteins) via the type III pathway. The expression of yop genes is regulated in response to environmental cues, which results in a cascade of type III secretion reactions. yscM1 and yscM2 negatively regulate the expression of Yersinia enterocolitica yop genes. It is demonstrated that yopD and lcrH are required for yscM1 and yscM2 function and that all four genes act synergistically at the same regulatory step. Further, SycH binding to the protein products of yscM1 and yscM2 can activate yop gene expression even without promoting type III transport of YscM1 and YscM2. Reverse transcription-PCR analysis of yopQ mRNA as well as yopQ and yopE gene fusion experiments with the npt (neomycin phosphotransferase) reporter suggest that yscM1 and yscM2 regulate expression at a posttranscriptional step. The 178-nucleotide 5′ untranslated region (UTR) of yopQ mRNA was sufficient to confer yscM1 and yscM2-mediated regulation on the fused reporter, as was the 28-nucleotide UTR of yopE. The sequence 5′-AUAAA-3′ is located in the 5′ yop UTRs, and mutations that alter the sequence motif either reduced or abolished yscM1- and yscM2-mediated regulation. A model is proposed whereby YopD, LcrH, YscM1, YscM2, and SycH regulate yop expression in response to specific environmental cues and by a mechanism that may involve binding of some of these factors to a specific target sequence within the UTR of yop mRNAs.
PMCID: PMC135404  PMID: 12374821
20.  Inflammasome Activation in Response to the Yersinia Type III Secretion System Requires Hyperinjection of Translocon Proteins YopB and YopD 
mBio  2015;6(1):e02095-14.
Type III secretion systems (T3SS) translocate effector proteins into target cells in order to disrupt or modulate host cell signaling pathways and establish replicative niches. However, recognition of T3SS activity by cytosolic pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) of the nucleotide-binding domain leucine rich repeat (NLR) family, either through detection of translocated products or membrane disruption, induces assembly of multiprotein complexes known as inflammasomes. Macrophages infected with Yersinia pseudotuberculosis strains lacking all known effectors or lacking the translocation regulator YopK induce rapid activation of both the canonical NLRP3 and noncanonical caspase-11 inflammasomes. While this inflammasome activation requires a functional T3SS, the precise signal that triggers inflammasome activation in response to Yersinia T3SS activity remains unclear. Effectorless strains of Yersinia as well as ΔyopK strains translocate elevated levels of T3SS substrates into infected cells. To dissect the contribution of pore formation and translocation to inflammasome activation, we took advantage of variants of YopD and LcrH that separate these functions of the T3SS. Notably, YopD variants that abrogated translocation but not pore-forming activity failed to induce inflammasome activation. Furthermore, analysis of individual infected cells revealed that inflammasome activation at the single-cell level correlated with translocated levels of YopB and YopD themselves. Intriguingly, LcrH mutants that are fully competent for effector translocation but produce and translocate lower levels of YopB and YopD also fail to trigger inflammasome activation. Our findings therefore suggest that hypertranslocation of YopD and YopB is linked to inflammasome activation in response to the Yersinia T3SS.
The innate immune response is critical to effective clearance of pathogens. Recognition of conserved virulence structures and activities by innate immune receptors such as NLRs constitute one of the first steps in mounting the innate immune response. However, pathogens such as Yersinia actively evade or subvert components of host defense, such as inflammasomes. The T3SS-secreted protein YopK is an essential virulence factor that limits translocation of other Yops, thereby limiting T3SS-induced inflammasome activation. However, what triggers inflammasome activation in cells infected by YopK-deficient Yersinia is not clear. Our findings indicate that hypertranslocation of pore complex proteins promotes inflammasome activation and that YopK prevents inflammasome activation by the T3SS by limiting translocation of YopD and YopB themselves.
PMCID: PMC4337566  PMID: 25691590
21.  YopD and LcrH Regulate Expression of Yersinia enterocolitica YopQ by a Posttranscriptional Mechanism and Bind to yopQ RNA 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(5):1287-1295.
Pathogenic yersiniae secrete 14 Yop proteins via the type III pathway. Synthesis of YopQ occurs when the type III machinery is activated by a low-calcium signal, but not when the calcium concentration is above 100 μM. To characterize the mechanism that regulates the expression of yopQ, mutants that permit synthesis of YopQ in the presence of calcium were isolated. Yersiniae bearing deletion mutations in yopN, tyeA, sycN, or yscB synthesized and secreted YopQ in both the presence and the absence of calcium. In contrast, yersiniae with a deletion in yopD or lcrH synthesized YopQ in the presence of calcium but did not secrete the polypeptide. These variants displayed no defect in YopQ secretion under low-calcium conditions, revealing that yopD and lcrH are required for the regulation of yopQ expression. Experiments with transcriptional and translational fusions to the npt reporter gene suggest that yopD and lcrH regulate yopQ expression at a posttranscriptional step. YopD and LcrH form a complex in the bacterial cytosol and bind yopQ mRNA. Models that can account for posttranscriptional regulatory mechanisms of yop expression are discussed.
PMCID: PMC134855  PMID: 11844757
22.  Regulation of the Ysa Type III Secretion System of Yersinia enterocolitica by YsaE/SycB and YsrS/YsrR 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(13):4056-4066.
Yersinia enterocolitica biovar 1B contains two type III secretion systems (TTSSs), the plasmid-encoded Ysc-Yop system and the chromosomally encoded Ysa-Ysp system. Proteins secreted from the Ysa TTSS (Ysps) have only been detected in vitro when cells are cultured at 26°C in a high-NaCl medium. However, the exact role of the Ysa TTSS is unclear. Thus, investigations into the regulation of this system may help elucidate the role of the Ysps during the life cycle of Y. enterocolitica. Here we present evidence that the AraC-like regulator YsaE acts together with the chaperone SycB to regulate transcription of the sycByspBCDA operon, a phenomenon similar to that seen in the closely related Salmonella SPI-1 and Shigella flexneri Mxi-Spa-Ipa TTSSs. Deletion of either sycB or ysaE results in a twofold reduction in the activity of a sycB-lacZ fusion compared to the wild type. In a reconstituted Escherichia coli system, transcription of sycB was activated sixfold only when both YsaE and SycB were present, demonstrating that they are necessary for activation. ysrR and ysrS are located near the ysa genes and encode a putative two-component regulatory system. Mutations in either gene indicated that both YsrR and YsrS were required for secretion of Ysps. In addition, transcription from sycB-lacZ and ysaE-lacZ fusions was decreased 6.5- and 25-fold, respectively, in the ysrS mutant compared to the wild type. Furthermore, in the absence of NaCl, the activity of ysaE-lacZ was reduced 25-fold in the wild-type and ΔysrS strains, indicating that YsrS is probably required for the salt-dependent expression of the ysa locus. These results suggest that the putative two-component system YsrRS may be a key element in the regulatory cascade for the Ysa TTSS.
PMCID: PMC421616  PMID: 15205407
23.  Expression hierarchy in the Yersinia type III secretion system established through YopD recognition of RNA 
Molecular microbiology  2011;80(4):966-980.
The Yersinia type III secretion system (T3SS) is environmentally responsive to enable its rapid induction upon contact with host cells and is necessary for Yersiniae to establish a replicative niche and cause disease. YopD, a translocator protein, represses the expression of T3SS genes until signaled by environmental cues, a mechanism known as the low calcium response. In this work, we investigated recognition of target genes by Yersinia pestis YopD. Expression of all genes of the T3SS was induced in a yopD mutant, though not to the same degree, with effector Yops most affected. Two, short AU-rich sequence elements up- and downstream of start codons of target genes were necessary but not sufficient for YopD mediated repression. Purified YopD-LcrH bound specifically to target RNAs in vitro with different relative affinities, with effector Yops having greater affinity. Together the data suggest YopD binds to T3SS transcripts where it may prevent ribosome binding causing accelerated mRNA degradation. This regulatory mechanism may ensure an expression hierarchy during the low calcium response as low affinity YopD-targets such as chaperones would be translated prior to high affinity targets such as effector Yops allowing the bacteria another layer of control over Yop translocation during infection.
PMCID: PMC4128491  PMID: 21481017
Yersinia pestis; Type III Secretion System; Translational repression; YopD
24.  Context-dependent protein folding of a virulence peptide in the bacterial and host environments: structure of an SycH–YopH chaperone–effector complex 
The structure of a SycH–YopH chaperone–effector complex from Yersinia reveals the bacterial state of a protein that adopts different folds in the host and pathogen environments.
Yersinia pestis injects numerous bacterial proteins into host cells through an organic nanomachine called the type 3 secretion system. One such substrate is the tyrosine phosphatase YopH, which requires an interaction with a cognate chaperone in order to be effectively injected. Here, the first crystal structure of a SycH–YopH complex is reported, determined to 1.9 Å resolution. The structure reveals the presence of (i) a nonglobular polypeptide in YopH, (ii) a so-­called β-motif in YopH and (iii) a conserved hydrophobic patch in SycH that recognizes the β-motif. Biochemical studies establish that the β-motif is critical to the stability of this complex. Finally, since previous work has shown that the N-­terminal portion of YopH adopts a globular fold that is functional in the host cell, aspects of how this polypeptide adopts radically different folds in the host and in the bacterial environments are analysed.
PMCID: PMC3606036  PMID: 23519663
Yersinia pestis; type 3 secretion; YopH; SycH; bacterial pathogenesis; chaperones; virulence peptides
25.  Yersinia Controls Type III Effector Delivery into Host Cells by Modulating Rho Activity 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(1):e3.
Yersinia pseudotuberculosis binds to β1 integrin receptors, and uses the type III secretion proteins YopB and YopD to introduce pores and to translocate Yop effectors directly into host cells. Y. pseudotuberculosis lacking effectors that inhibit Rho GTPases, YopE and YopT, have high pore forming activity. Here, we present evidence that Y. pseudotuberculosis selectively modulates Rho activity to induce cellular changes that control pore formation and effector translocation. Inhibition of actin polymerization decreased pore formation and YopE translocation in HeLa cells infected with Y. pseudotuberculosis. Inactivation of Rho, Rac, and Cdc42 by treatment with Clostridium difficile toxin B inhibited pore formation and YopE translocation in infected HeLa cells. Expression of a dominant negative form of Rac did not reduce the uptake of membrane impermeable dyes in HeLa cells infected with a pore forming strain YopEHJT−. Similarly, the Rac inhibitor NSC23766 did not decrease pore formation or translocation, although it efficiently hindered Rac-dependent bacterial uptake. In contrast, C. botulinum C3 potently reduced pore formation and translocation, implicating Rho A, B, and/or C in the control of the Yop delivery. An invasin mutant (Y. pseudotuberculosis invD911E) that binds to β1 integrins, but inefficiently transduces signals through the receptors, was defective for YopE translocation. Interfering with the β1 integrin signaling pathway, by inhibiting Src kinase activity, negatively affected YopE translocation. Additionally, Y. pseudotuberculosis infection activated Rho by a mechanism that was dependent on YopB and on high affinity bacteria interaction with β1 integrin receptors. We propose that Rho activation, mediated by signals triggered by the YopB/YopD translocon and from engagement of β1 integrin receptors, stimulates actin polymerization and activates the translocation process, and that once the Yops are translocated, the action of YopE or YopT terminate delivery of Yops and prevents pore formation.
Author Summary
The type III secretion system (TTSS) is essential for the virulence of a number of Gram-negative human pathogens of enormous clinical significance. The molecular mechanisms by which TTSS effector proteins are translocated into the host cell are not well understood. The work presented here proposes a new model in which the enteropathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis manipulates the host cell machinery to control effector translocation. This involves activation of the host cell Rho GTPase by the cooperative action of adhesin-mediated high affinity binding to specific cell receptor molecules known as β1 integrins, and interaction of components of the TTSS with the host cell membrane. This molecular mechanism of controlling TTSS may not be restricted to Y. pseudotuberculosis and might take place during infection of host cells with other pathogens that encode homologues of Yersinia TTSS proteins. Our findings provide a good starting point to study the molecular nature of the complex interaction between bacterial pathogens bearing TTSSs and the host cell. Importantly, components that act by modulating the TTSS are potential targets for novel antimicrobials.
PMCID: PMC2186360  PMID: 18193942

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