Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
The enterobacterium Erwinia carotovora ssp. carotovora strain 71 (hereafter Ecc71) produces extracellular enzymes such as pectate lyase isozymes (Pels), cellulase (Cel), polygalacturonase (Peh) and protease (Prt). These enzymes degrade plant cell wall components and are largely responsible for the elicitation of soft-rot diseases in plants and plant products. Ecc71 also produces HarpinEcc, the elicitor of hypersensitive reaction (HR) and the quorum-sensing signal, N-(3-oxohexanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (OHL). OHL controls extracellular enzyme and HarpinEcc production. The levels of these enzymes, as well as the expression of hrpNEcc, the structural gene for HarpinEcc, and ohlI, the gene specifying OHL synthesis, are negatively regulated by RsmA. rsmB, formerly aepH, on the other hand, positively regulates extracellular enzyme production. 6His–RsmA recombinant protein purified from E. coli binds rsmB RNA as indicated by gel mobility shift assays. rsmB comprises 547 bp DNA, which is transcribed from a single start site immediately after a σ70-like promoter. In Ecc71, two rsmB RNA species are detected: a full-length 479 base rsmB RNA and a 259 base rsmB′ RNA. rsmB′ DNA hybridizes with the 259 base and the 479 base transcripts. A 3′ RNase protection assay revealed that the 259 base and the 479 base RNA species end at the same position immediately after the putative rho-independent terminator. The expression of rsmB–lacZ transcriptional fusions established that the rsmB′ RNA is not produced because of the activation of an internal promoter. These data strongly suggest that the 259 base rsmB′ RNA is derived by processing of the primary rsmB RNA. In Ecc71, rsmB′ expression driven by the lac promoter causes overproduction of Pel, Peh, Cel and Prt, and accumulation of pel-1, peh-1, hrpNEcc and ohlI transcripts. By contrast, a plasmid with the rsmB′ DNA sequence deleted fails to cause overproduction of the extracellular enzymes in Ecc71. The rsmB′ effect also occurs in Escherichia coli as glycogen accumulation is stimulated in the presence of rsmB′. In vivo and in vitro translation as well as mutational analysis of rsmB′ have established that rsmB′ RNA does not yield a translational product. Therefore, we concluded that the rsmB′ RNA itself functions as the regulator. Indeed, the expression of rsmB′ DNA leads to neutralization of the negative effects of the RNA-binding protein, RsmA, in Ecc71 and Serratia marcescens strain SM274. We propose a model that explains how RsmA and rsmB control the expression of genes for extracellular enzymes.
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