Differential regulation of the hmsCDE operon in Yersinia pestis and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis by the Rcs phosphorelay system

Sci Rep. 2015 Feb 12;5:8412. doi: 10.1038/srep08412.


Yersinia pestis, the agent of plague, forms a biofilm in its flea vector to enhance transmission. Y. pestis biofilm development is positively regulated by hmsT and hmsD, encoding diguanylate cyclases (DGCs) involved in synthesis of the bacterial second messenger c-di-GMP. rcsA, encoding an auxiliary protein in Rcs phosphorelay, is nonfunctional in Y. pestis, while in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, rcsA is functional and represses biofilms. Previously we showed that Rcs phosphorelay negatively regulates transcription of hmsT in Y. pestis and its ancestor Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. In this study, we show that Rcs positively regulates hmsCDE operon (encoding HmsD) in Y. pestis; while in the presence of functional rcsA, Rcs represses hmsCDE operon in Y. pseudotuberculosis. Loss of rcsA's function in Y. pestis not only causes derepression of hmsT but also causes activation of hmsD, which may account for the increased biofilm formation in Y. pestis. In addition, differential regulation of the two DGCs, HmsT and HmsD by Rcs may help Y. pestis to adapt to different environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Biofilms
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Operon*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Yersinia pestis / genetics*
  • Yersinia pestis / metabolism*
  • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis / genetics*
  • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins