Post-transcriptional processing of the LEE4 operon in enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli

Mol Microbiol. 2009 Jan;71(2):273-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06530.x. Epub 2008 Nov 4.


Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) employs a type III secretion system (T3SS) to export translocator and effector proteins required for mucosal colonization. The T3SS is encoded in a pathogenicity island called the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) that is organized in five major operons, LEE1 to LEE5. LEE4 encodes a regulator of secretion (SepL), translocators (EspA, D and B), two chaperones (CesD2 and L0017), a T3SS component (EscF) and an effector protein (EspF). It was originally proposed that the esp transcript is transcribed from a promoter located at the end of sepL but other authors suggested that this transcript is the result of a post-transcriptional processing event. In this study, we established that the espADB mRNA is generated by post-transcriptional processing at the end of the sepL coding sequence. RNase E is the endonuclease involved in the cleavage, but the interaction of this enzyme with other proteins through its C-terminal half is dispensable. A putative transcription termination event in the cesD2 coding region would generate the 3' end of the transcript. Similar to what has been described for other processed transcripts, the cleavage of LEE4 seems a mechanism to differentially regulate SepL and Esp protein production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Endoribonucleases / genetics
  • Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genomic Islands
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Operon*
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Endoribonucleases
  • ribonuclease E