Genome-wide analysis of small RNAs expressed by Yersinia pestis identifies a regulator of the Yop-Ysc type III secretion system

Chelsea A. Schiano, Jovanka T. Koo, Matthew J. Schipma, Adam J. Caulfield, Nadereh Jafari, Wyndham W. Lathem*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Small noncoding RNA (sRNA) molecules are integral components of the regulatory machinery for many bacterial species and are known to posttranscriptionally regulate metabolic and stress-response pathways, quorum sensing, virulence factors, and more. The Yop-Ysc type III secretion system (T3SS) is a critical virulence component for the pathogenic Yersinia species, and the regulation of this system is tightly controlled at each step from transcription to translocation of effectors into host cells. The contribution of sRNAs to the regulation of the T3SS in Yersinia has been largely unstudied, however. Previously, our lab identified a role for the sRNA chaperone protein Hfq in the regulation of components of the T3SS in the gastrointestinal pathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Here we present data demonstrating a similar requirement for Hfq in the closely related species Yersinia pestis. Through deep sequencing analysis of the Y. pestis sRNA-ome, we found 63 previously unidentified putative sRNAs in this species. We identified a Yersinia-specific sRNA, Ysr141, carried by the T3SS plasmid pCD1 that is required for the production of multiple T3SS proteins. In addition, we show that Ysr141 targets an untranslated region upstream of yopJ to posttranscriptionally activate the synthesis of the YopJ protein. Furthermore, Ysr141 may be an unstable and/or processed sRNA, which could contribute to its function in the regulation of the T3SS. The discovery of an sRNA that influences the synthesis of the T3SS adds an additional layer of regulation to this tightly controlled virulence determinant of Y. pestis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1659-1670
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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