The orphan gene ybjN conveys pleiotropic effects on multicellular behavior and survival of Escherichia coli

Dongping Wang, Bernarda Calla, Sornkanok Vimolmangkang, Xia Wu, Schuyler S. Korban, Steven C. Huber, Steven J. Clough, Youfu Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


YbjN, encoding an enterobacteria-specific protein, is a multicopy suppressor of temperature sensitivity in the ts9 mutant strain of Escherichia coli. In this study, we further explored the role(s) of ybjN. First, we demonstrated that the ybjN transcript was about 10-fold lower in the ts9 strain compared to that of E. coli strain BW25113 (BW). Introduction of multiple copies of ybjN in the ts9 strain resulted in over-expression of ybjN by about 10-fold as compared to that of BW. These results suggested that temperature sensitivity of the ts9 mutant of E. coli may be related to expression levels of ybjN. Characterization of E. coli ybjN mutant revealed that ybjN mutation resulted in pleiotropic phenotypes, including increased motility, fimbriation (auto-aggregation), exopolysaccharide production, and biofilm formation. In contrast, over-expression of ybjN (in terms of multiple copies) resulted in reduced motility, fimbriation, exopolysaccharide production, biofilm formation and acid resistance. In addition, our results indicate that a ybjN-homolog gene from Erwinia amylovora, a plant enterobacterial pathogen, is functionally conserved with that of E. coli, suggesting similar evolution of the YbjN family proteins in enterobacteria. A microarray study revealed that the expression level of ybjN was inversely correlated with the expression of flagellar, fimbrial and acid resistance genes. Over-expression of ybjN significantly down-regulated genes involved in citric acid cycle, glycolysis, the glyoxylate shunt, oxidative phosphorylation, amino acid and nucleotide metabolism. Furthermore, over-expression of ybjN up-regulated toxin-antitoxin modules, the SOS response pathway, cold shock and starvation induced transporter genes. Collectively, these results suggest that YbjN may play important roles in regulating bacterial multicellular behavior, metabolism, and survival under stress conditions in E. coli. These results also suggest that ybjN over-expression-related temperature rescue of the ts9 mutant may be due to down-regulation of metabolic activity and activation of stress response genes in the ts9 mutant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere25293
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 27 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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