RNA type III secretion signals that require Hfq

George S. Niemann, Roslyn N. Brown, Ivy T. Mushamiri, Nhu T. Nguyen, Rukayat Taiwo, Afke Stufkens, Richard D. Smith, Joshua N. Adkins, Jason E. McDermott, Fred Heffron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Salmonella virulence is largely mediated by two type III secretion systems (T3SS) that deliver effector proteins from the bacterium to a host cell; however, the secretion signal is poorly defined. Effector N termini are thought to contain the signal, but they lack homology, possess no identifiable motif, and adopt intrinsically disordered structures. Alternative studies suggest that RNA-encoded signals may also be recognized and that they can be located in the 5= untranslated leader sequence. We began our study by establishing the minimum sequence required for reporter translocation. Untranslated leader sequences predicted from 42 different Salmonella effector proteins were fused to the adenylate cyclase reporter (CyaA=), and each of them was tested for protein injection into J774 macrophages. RNA sequences derived from five effectors, gtgA, cigR, gogB, sseL, and steD, were sufficient for CyaA= translocation into host cells. To determine the mechanism of signal recognition, we identified proteins that bound specifically to the gtgA RNA. One of the unique proteins identified was Hfq. Hfq had no effect upon the translocation of full-length CigR and SteD, but injection of intact GtgA, GogB, and SseL was abolished in an hfq mutant, confirming the importance of Hfq. Our results demonstrated that the Salmonella pathogenicity island 2 (SPI-2) T3SS assembled into a functional apparatus independently of Hfq. Since particular effectors required Hfq for translocation, Hfq-RNA complexes may participate in signal recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2119-2125
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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