PspB and PspC of Yersinia enterocolitica are dual function proteins: regulators and effectors of the phage-shock-protein response

Mol Microbiol. 2006 Mar;59(5):1610-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2006.05047.x.


The phage-shock-protein (Psp) stress-response system is conserved in many bacteria and has been linked to important phenotypes in Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica and also Yersinia enterocolitica, where it is essential for virulence. It is activated by specific extracytoplasmic stress events such as the mislocalization of secretin proteins. From studies of the Psp system in E. coli, the cytoplasmic membrane proteins PspB and PspC have only been proposed to act as positive regulators of psp gene expression. However, in this study we show that PspB and PspC of Y. enterocolitica are dual function proteins, acting both as regulators and effectors of the Psp system. Consistent with the current model, they positively control psp gene expression in response to diverse inducing cues. PspB and PspC must work together to achieve this regulatory function, and bacterial two-hybrid (BACTH) analysis demonstrated a specific interaction between them, which was confirmed by in vivo cross-linking. We also show that PspB and PspC play a second role in supporting growth when a secretin protein is overexpressed. This function is independent from their role as regulators of psp gene expression. Furthermore, whereas PspB and PspC must work together for their regulatory function, they can apparently act independently to support growth during secretin production. This study expands the current understanding of the roles played by PspB and PspC, and demonstrates that they cannot be considered only as positive regulators of psp gene expression in Y. enterocolitica.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Dimerization
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Operon
  • Secretin / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / growth & development
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / metabolism
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / physiology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • PspC protein, Yersinia enterocolitica
  • Transcription Factors
  • phage shock protein, Bacteria
  • Secretin