Regulation of pectinolysis in Erwinia chrysanthemi

Annu Rev Microbiol. 1996;50:213-57. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.50.1.213.


Erwinia chrysanthemi is an enterobacterium that causes various plant diseases. Its pathogenicity results from the secretion of pectinolytic enzymes responsible for the disorganization of the plant cell wall. The E. chrysanthemi strain 3937 produces two pectin methylesterases, at least seven pectate lyases, a polygalacturonase, and a pectin lyase. The extracellular degradation of the pectin leads to the formation of oligogalacturonides that are catabolized through an intracellular pathway. The pectinase genes are expressed from independent cistrons, and their transcription is favored by environmental conditions such as presence of pectin and plant extracts, stationary growth phase, low temperature, oxygen or iron limitation, and so on. Moreover, transcription of the pectin lyase gene responds to DNA-damaging agents. The differential expressions of individual pectinase genes presumably reflect their role during plant infection. The regulation of pel genes requires several regulatory systems, including the KdgR repressor, which mediates the induction of all the pectinolysis genes in the presence of pectin catabolites. KdgR also controls the genes necessary for pectinase secretion and other pectin-inducible genes not yet characterized. PecS, a cytoplasmic protein homologous to other transcriptional regulators, can bind in vitro to the regulatory regions of pectinase and cellulase genes. The PecT protein, a member of the LysR family of transcriptional regulators, represses the expression of some pectinase genes and also affects other metabolic pathways of the bacteria. Other proteins involved in global regulations, such as CRP or HNS, can bind to the regulatory regions of the pectinase genes and affect their transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pectins / metabolism*
  • Pectobacterium chrysanthemi / enzymology*
  • Pectobacterium chrysanthemi / genetics*
  • Plant Diseases / etiology
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Regulon


  • Pectins