The small RNA chaperone Hfq is required for the virulence of yersinia pseudotuberculosis

Chelsea A. Schiano, Lauren E. Bellows, Wyndham W. Lathem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Bacterial small, noncoding RNAs (sRNAs) participate in the posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression, often by affecting protein translation, transcript stability, and/or protein activity. For proper function, many sRNAs rely on the chaperone Hfq, which mediates the interaction of the sRNA with its target mRNA. Recent studies have demonstrated that Hfq contributes to the pathogenesis of a number of bacterial species, suggesting that sRNAs play an essential role in the regulation of virulence. The enteric pathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis causes the disease yersiniosis. Here we show that Hfq is required by Y. pseudotuberculosis to cause mortality in an intragastric mouse model of infection, and a strain lacking Hfq is attenuated 1,000-fold compared to the wild type. Hfq is also required for virulence through the intraperitoneal route of infection and for persistence of the bacterium in the Peyer's patches, mesenteric lymph nodes, and spleen, suggesting a role for Hfq in systemic infection. Furthermore, the Δhfq mutant of Y. pseudotuberculosis is hypermotile and displays increased production of a biosurfactant-like substance, reduced intracellular survival in macrophages, and decreased production of type III secretion effector proteins. Together, these data demonstrate that Hfq plays a critical role in the virulence of Y. pseudotuberculosis by participating in the regulation of multiple steps in the pathogenic process and further highlight the unique role of Hfq in the virulence of individual pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2034-2044
Number of pages11
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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