Lon protease modulates virulence traits in Erwinia amylovora by direct monitoring of major regulators and indirectly through the Rcs and Gac-Csr regulatory systems

Jae Hoon Lee, Veronica Ancona, Youfu Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Lon, an ATP-dependent protease in bacteria, influences diverse cellular processes by degrading damaged, misfolded and short-lived regulatory proteins. In this study, we characterized the effects of lon mutation and determined the molecular mechanisms underlying Lon-mediated virulence regulation in Erwinia amylovora, an enterobacterial pathogen of apple. Erwinia amylovora depends on the type III secretion system (T3SS) and the exopolysaccharide (EPS) amylovoran to cause disease. Our results showed that mutation of the lon gene led to the overproduction of amylovoran, increased T3SS gene expression and the non-motile phenotype. Western blot analyses showed that mutation in lon directly affected the accumulation and stability of HrpS/HrpA and RcsA. Mutation in lon also indirectly influenced the expression of flhD, hrpS and csrB through the accumulation of the RcsA/RcsB proteins, which bind to the promoter of these genes. In addition, lon expression is under the control of CsrA, possibly at both the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. Although mutation in csrA abolished both T3SS and amylovoran production, deletion of the lon gene in the csrA mutant only rescued amylovoran production, but not T3SS. These results suggest that CsrA might positively control both T3SS and amylovoran production partly by suppressing Lon, whereas CsrA may also play a critical role in T3SS by affecting unknown targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-840
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Plant Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018



  • CsrA/RsmA
  • GacS/GacA
  • HrpS/HrpR
  • RcsA/RcsB
  • T3SS
  • csrB/rsmB
  • post-translational regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science

Cite this