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Keywords:

  • bacteria–host-cell communication;
  • microbial pathogenesis;
  • signalling;
  • type III secretion;
  • Yersinia

Extracellular Yersinia spp. disarm the immune system by injecting the effector Yersinia outer proteins (Yops) into the target cell. Yop secretion is triggered by contact with eukaryotic cells or by Ca2+ chelation. Two proteins, YopN and LcrG, are known to be involved in Yop-secretion control. Here we describe TyeA, a third protein involved in the control of Yop release. Like YopN, TyeA is localized at the bacterial surface. A tyeA knock-out mutant secreted Yops in the presence of Ca2+ and in the absence of eukaryotic cells. Unlike a yopN null mutant, the tyeA mutant was defective for translocation of YopE and YopH, but not YopM, YopO and YopP, into eukaryotic cells. This is the first observation suggesting that Yop effectors can be divided into two sets for delivery into eukaryotic cells. TyeA was found to interact with the translocator YopD and with residues 242–293 of YopN. In contrast with a yopN null mutant, a yopNΔ248–272 mutant was also unable to translocate YopE and YopH. Our results suggest that TyeA forms part of the translocation-control apparatus together with YopD and YopN, and that the interaction of these proteins is required for selective translocation of Yops inside eukaryotic cells.