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.