Environmental control of invasin expression in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is mediated by regulation of RovA, a transcriptional activator of the SlyA/Hor family



Invasin is the primary invasive factor of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis that allows efficient internalization into eukaryotic cells. We investigated invasin expression and found that the inv gene is regulated in response to a variety of environmental signals, such as temperature, growth phase, nutrients, osmolarity and pH, and requires the product of rovA, a member of the SlyA/Hor transcriptional activator family. The rovA gene was found by a genetic complementation strategy that restores temperature regulation of an unexpressed inv–phoA fusion in Escherichia coli K-12. RovA plays a role in the invasion of Y. pseudotuberculosis into mammalian cells and mediates the regulation of invasin in response to all environmental signals analysed. Deletion analysis of the inv promoter region revealed a DNA segment extending 207 bp upstream of the transcriptional start site, which is required for maximal RovA-induced inv transcription. Gel retardation assays showed that RovA interacts preferentially with this promoter fragment and suggested two potential RovA binding sites. Studies with chromosomal gene fusions also demonstrated that rovA follows the same pattern of regulation as invasin, indicating that environmental control of inv expression is mainly mediated by the control of RovA synthesis. Furthermore, we showed that a rovA–lacZ fusion is only slightly expressed in a rovA mutant strain, indicating that a positive autoregulatory mechanism is also involved in rovA expression.