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Regulation of hrp Genes and Type III Protein Secretion in Erwinia amylovora by HrpX/HrpY, a Novel Two-Component System, and HrpS

November 2000 , Volume 13 , Number  11
Pages  1,251 - 1,262

Zhongmin Wei , Jihyun F. Kim , and Steven V. Beer

Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, U.S.A.

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Accepted 12 June 2000.

Two novel regulatory components, hrpX and hrpY, of the hrp system of Erwinia amylovora were identified. The hrpXY operon is expressed in rich media, but its transcription is increased threefold by low pH, nutrient, and temperature levels—conditions that mimic the plant apoplast. hrpXY is autoregulated and directs the expression of hrpL; hrpL, in turn, activates transcription of other loci in the hrp gene cluster (Z.-M. Wei and S. V. Beer, J. Bacteriol. 177:6201-6210, 1995). The deduced amino -acid sequences of hrpX and hrpY are similar to bacterial two-component regulators including VsrA/VsrD of Pseudomonas (Ralstonia) solanacearum, DegS/DegU of Bacillus subtilis, and UhpB/UhpA and NarX/NarP, NarL of Escherichia coli. The N-terminal signal-input domain of HrpX contains PAS domain repeats. hrpS, located downstream of hrpXY, encodes a protein with homology to WtsA (HrpS) of Erwinia (Pantoea) stewartii, HrpR and HrpS of Pseudomonas syringae, and other σ54-dependent, enhancer-binding proteins. Transcription of hrpS also is induced under conditions that mimic the plant apoplast. However, hrpS is not autoregulated, and its expression is not affected by hrpXY. When hrpS or hrpL were provided on multicopy plasmids, both hrpX and hrpY mutants recovered the ability to elicit the hypersensitive reaction in tobacco. This confirms that hrpS and hrpL are not epistatic to hrpXY. A model of the regulatory cascades leading to the induction of the E. amylovora type III system is proposed.

Additional keywords: fire blight, pathogenicity, virulence.

© 2000 The American Phytopathological Society