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Pathogenic bacteria of the genus Yersinia (Y. pestis, Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis) have evolved numerous virulence factors (termed a stratagem) to manipulate the activity of Rho GTPases. Here, we show that Y. enterocolitica modulates RhoG, an upstream regulator of other Rho GTPases. At the contact site of virulent Y. enterocolitica and host cells, we could visualise spatiotemporally organised activation and deactivation of RhoG. On the one hand, the β1-integrin clustering protein Invasin on the bacterial surface was found to activate RhoG and this promoted cell invasion. On the other hand, active RhoG was downregulated by the type III secretion system effector YopE acting as a GTPase-activating protein (GAP). YopE localised to Golgi and endoplasmic reticulum, and this determined its specificity for RhoG and other selected Rho GTPases. RhoG and its downstream effector module Elmo/Dock180 controlled both Rac1 activation by Invasin and Rac1 deactivation by YopE. We propose that RhoG is a central target of the Yersinia stratagem and a major upstream regulator of Rac1 during different phases of the Yersinia infection cycle.


  • Accepted November 10, 2008.
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