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Summary

Type III secretion-dependent translocation of Yop (Yersinia outer proteins) effector proteins into host cells is an essential virulence mechanism common to the pathogenic Yersinia species. One unique feature of this mechanism is the polarized secretion of Yops, i.e. Yops are only secreted at the site of contact with the host cell and not to the surrounding medium. In vitro, secretion occurs in Ca2+-depleted media, a condition believed to somehow mimic cell contact. Three proteins, YopN, LcrG and TyeA have been suggested to control secretion and mutating any of these genes results in constitutive secretion. In addition, in Y. enterocolitica TyeA has been implied to be specifically required for delivery of a subset of Yop effectors into infected cells. In this work we have investigated the role of TyeA in secretion and translocation of Yop effectors by Y. pseudotuberculosis. An in frame deletion mutant of tyeA was found to be temperature-sensitive for growth and this phenotype correlated to a lowered expression of the negative regulatory element LcrQ. In medium containing Ca2+, Yop expression was somewhat elevated compared to the wild-type strain and low levels of Yop secretion was also seen. Somewhat surprisingly, expression and secretion of Yops was lower than for the wild-type strain when the tyeA mutant was grown in Ca2+-depleted medium. Translocation of YopE, YopH, YopJ and YopM into infected HeLa cells was significantly lower in comparison with the isogenic wild-type strain and Yop proteins could also be recovered in the tissue culture medium. This indicated that the tyeA mutant had lost the ability to translocate Yop proteins by a polarized mechanism. In order to exclude that the defect in translocation seen in the tyeA mutant was a result of lowered expression/secretion of Yops, a double lcrQ/tyeA mutant was constructed. This strain was de-repressed for Yop expression and secretion but was still impaired for translocation of both YopE and YopM. In addition, the low level of YopE translocation in the tyeA mutant was independent of the YopE chaperone YerA/SycE. TyeA was found to localize to the cytoplasm of the bacterium and we were unable to find any evidence that TyeA was secreted or surface located. From our studies in Y. pseudotuberculosis we conclude that TyeA is involved in regulation of Yop expression and required for polarized delivery of Yop effectors in general and is not as suggested in Y. enterocolitica directly required for translocation of a subset of Yop effectors.