Background: The osmotic regulator OmpR in Escherichia coli regulates differentially the expression of major porin proteins OmpF and OmpC. In Yersinia enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis, OmpR is required for both virulence and survival within macrophages. However, the phenotypic and regulatory roles of OmpR in Y. pestis are not yet fully understood.
Results: Y. pestis OmpR is involved in building resistance against phagocytosis and controls the adaptation to various stressful conditions met in macrophages. The ompR mutation likely did not affect the virulence of Y. pestis strain 201 that was a human-avirulent enzootic strain. The microarray-based comparative transcriptome analysis disclosed a set of 224 genes whose expressions were affected by the ompR mutation, indicating the global regulatory role of OmpR in Y. pestis. Real-time RT-PCR or lacZ fusion reporter assay further validated 16 OmpR-dependent genes, for which OmpR consensus-like sequences were found within their upstream DNA regions. ompC, F, X, and R were up-regulated dramatically with the increase of medium osmolarity, which was mediated by OmpR occupying the target promoter regions in a tandem manner.
Conclusion: OmpR contributes to the resistance against phagocytosis or survival within macrophages, which is conserved in the pathogenic yersiniae. Y. pestis OmpR regulates ompC, F, X, and R directly through OmpR-promoter DNA association. There is an inducible expressions of the pore-forming proteins OmpF, C, and × at high osmolarity in Y. pestis, in contrast to the reciprocal regulation of them in E. coli. The main difference is that ompF expression is not repressed at high osmolarity in Y. pestis, which is likely due to the absence of a promoter-distal OmpR-binding site for ompF.