Chapter

The Genus Yersinia

Volume 603 of the series Advances In Experimental Medicine And Biology pp 298-311

A Rationale for Repression and/or Loss of Motility by Pathogenic Yersinia in the Mammalian Host

  • Scott A. MinnichAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology, Molecular Biology, and Biochemistry, University of Idaho
  • , Harold N. RohdeAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology, Molecular Biology, and Biochemistry, University of Idaho

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Pathogenic yersiniae either repress flagella expression under host conditions (Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis) or have permanently lost this capability by mutation (Yersinia pestis). The block in flagella synthesis for the enteropathogenic Yersinia centers on fliA (σF) repression. This repression ensures the downstream repression of flagellin structural genes which can be cross-recognized and secreted by virulence type III secretion systems. Y. pestis carries several flagellar mutations including a frame shift mutation in flhD, part of the flagellar master control operon. Repression of flagellins in the host environment may be critical because they are potent inducers of innate immunity. Artificial expression of flagellin in Y. enterocolitica completely attenuates virulence, supporting the hypothesis that motility is a liability in the mammalian host.