The Antiactivator of Type III Secretion, OspD1, Is Transcriptionally Regulated by VirB and H-NS from Remote Sequences in Shigella flexneri

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Journal of Bacteriology





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Shigella species, the causal agents of bacillary dysentery, use a type III secretion system (T3SS) to inject two waves of virulence proteins, known as effectors, into the colonic epithelium to subvert host cell machinery. Prior to host cell contact and secretion of the first wave of T3SS effectors, OspD1, an effector and antiactivator protein, prevents premature production of the second wave of effectors. Despite this important role, regulation of the ospD1 gene is not well understood. While ospD1 belongs to the large regulon of VirB, a transcriptional antisilencing protein that counters silencing mediated by the histone-like nucleoid structuring protein H-NS, it remains unclear if VirB directly or indirectly regulates ospD1. Additionally, it is not known if ospD1 is regulated by H-NS. Here, we identify the primary ospD1 transcription start site (+1) and show that the ospD1 promoter is remotely regulated by both VirB and H-NS. Our findings demonstrate that VirB regulation of ospD1 requires at least one of the two newly identified VirB regulatory sites, centered at −978 and −1270 relative to the ospD1 +1. Intriguingly, one of these sites lies on a 193-bp sequence found in three conserved locations on the large virulence plasmids of Shigella. The region required for H-NS-dependent silencing of ospD1 lies between −1120 and −820 relative to the ospD1 +1. Thus, our study provides further evidence that cis-acting regulatory sequences for transcriptional antisilencers and silencers, such as VirB and H-NS, can lie far upstream of the canonical bacterial promoter region (i.e., −250 to +1). IMPORTANCE Transcriptional silencing and antisilencing mechanisms regulate virulence gene expression in many important bacterial pathogens. In Shigella species, plasmid-borne virulence genes, such as those encoding the type III secretion system (T3SS), are silenced by the histone-like nucleoid structuring protein H-NS and antisilenced by VirB. Previous work at the plasmid-borne icsP locus revealed that VirB binds to a remotely located cis-acting regulatory site to relieve transcriptional silencing mediated by H-NS. Here, we characterize a second example of remote VirB antisilencing at ospD1, which encodes a T3SS antiactivator and effector. Our study highlights that remote transcriptional silencing and antisilencing occur more frequently in Shigella than previously thought, and it raises the possibility that long-range transcriptional regulation in bacteria is commonplace.


H-NS; MITE; Ospd1; Shigella; Virb; Antisilencing; Silencing; Transcriptional Regulation; Type III Secretion; Xenogeneic


Bacteriology | Life Sciences | Microbiology



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