Role of RsmA in the regulation of swarming motility and virulence factor expression in Proteus mirabilis

J Med Microbiol. 2003 Jan;52(Pt 1):19-28. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.05024-0.


Swarming by Proteus mirabilis involves differentiation of typical short vegetative rods into filamentous hyper-flagellated swarm cells that undergo cycles of rapid and co-ordinated population migration across surfaces and exhibit high levels of virulence gene expression. RsmA (repressor of secondary metabolites) and CsrA, its homologue in Escherichia coli, control many phenotypic traits, such as motility and pathogenesis in Erwinia species, glycogen biosynthesis, cell size and biofilm formation in Escherichia coli and swarming motility in Serratia marcescens. To investigate the role of RsmA in Proteus mirabilis, the rsmA gene from Proteus mirabilis (hereafter referred to as rsmA(Pm)) was cloned. RsmA(Pm) showed high sequence similarity to Escherichia coli CsrA and RsmA cloned from Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora, Serratia marcescens, Haemophilus influenzae and Bacillus subtilis and could complement an Escherichia coli csrA mutant in glycogen synthesis. A low-copy-number plasmid carrying rsmA(Pm) expressed from its native promoter caused suppression of swarming motility and expression of virulence factors in Proteus mirabilis. mRNA stability assays suggested that RsmA(Pm) inhibited virulence factor expression through promoting mRNA degradation. RsmA homologues cloned from Serratia marcescens and Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora could also inhibit swarming and virulence factor expression in Proteus mirabilis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Genes, Bacterial / genetics
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Movement*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Proteus mirabilis / genetics*
  • Proteus mirabilis / metabolism
  • Proteus mirabilis / pathogenicity
  • Proteus mirabilis / physiology*
  • RNA Stability
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / chemistry
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virulence Factors / genetics*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • CsrA protein, E coli
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • RsmA protein, Erwinia carotovora
  • Virulence Factors

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF403736