Regulation of IcsP, the Outer Membrane Protease of the Shigella Actin Tail Assembly Protein IcsA, by Virulence Plasmid Regulators VirF and VirB
The Shigella outer membrane protease IcsP removes the actin assembly protein IcsA from the bacterial surface, and consequently modulates Shigella actin-based motility and cell-to-cell spread. Here, we demonstrate that IcsP expression is undetectable in mutants lacking either of two transcriptional activators, VirF and VirB. In wild-type Shigella spp., virB expression is entirely dependent on VirF; therefore, to circumvent this regulatory cascade, we independently expressed VirF or VirB in Shigella strains lacking both activators and measured both IcsP levels and transcription from the icsP promoter. Our results show that VirB significantly enhanced icsP transcription, even in the absence of VirF. In contrast, when VirF was induced in the absence of VirB, VirF had variable effects. The regulation of icsP is distinctly different from the regulation of the gene encoding its major substrate, icsA, which is activated by VirF and not VirB. We propose that the different pathways regulating icsA and icsP may be critical to the modulation of IcsA-mediated actin-based motility by IcsP.