Phop-mediated repression of the spi1 type 3 secretion system in salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium

Alexander D. Palmer, Kyungsub Kim, James M. Slauch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Salmonella must rapidly adapt to various niches in the host during infection. Relevant virulence factors must be appropriately induced, and systems that are detrimental in a particular environment must be turned off. Salmonella infects intestinal epithelial cells using a type 3 secretion system (T3SS) encoded on Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI1). The system is controlled by three AraC-like regulators, HilD, HilC, and RtsA, which form a complex feed-forward loop to activate expression of hilA, encoding the main transcriptional regulator of T3SS structural genes. This system is tightly regulated, with many of the activating signals acting at the level of hilD translation or HilD protein activity. Once inside the phagosomes of epithelial cells, or in macrophages during systemic stages of disease, the SPI1 T3SS is no longer required or expressed. Here, we show that the PhoPQ two-component system, critical for intracellular survival, appears to be the primary mechanism by which Salmonella shuts down the SPI1 T3SS. PhoP negatively regulates hilA through multiple distinct mechanisms: Direct transcriptional repression of the hilA promoter, indirect transcriptional repression of both the hilD and rtsA promoters, and activation of the small RNA (sRNA) PinT. Genetic analyses and electrophoretic mobility shift assays suggest that PhoP specifically binds the hilA promoter to block binding of activators HilD, HilC, and RtsA as a mechanism of repression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00264-19
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • PhoPQ
  • Salmonella
  • Virulence regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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