Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/13/2018

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In


First Advisor

Timothy L. Yahr


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a gram-negative pathogen that causes opportunistic infections in immunocompromised individuals. Whereas clinical isolates from acute infections are characterized by host cell cytotoxicity and motility, isolates from chronic infections are characterized by biofilm formation and persistence. The type III secretion system (T3SS) causes cytotoxicity by injecting effectors into host cells. T3SS gene expression is activated by ExsA, an AraC family transcriptional regulator. Transcription of exsA is controlled by two promoters, PexsC and PexsA, which are regulated by ExsA and the cAMP-Vfr system, respectively. Additional global regulatory systems also influence T3SS including the second messenger signaling molecule c-di-GMP and the RsmAYZ regulatory system. c-di-GMP signaling increases biofilm production and decreases acute virulence factor expression. A previous study found that c-di-GMP alters cAMP levels and affect cAMP-Vfr signaling. Other studies found that c-di-GMP signaling alters expression of the small non-coding regulatory RNAs, rsmY and rsmZ. The RsmAYZ post-transcriptional regulatory system regulates ExsA translation. We hypothesize that c-di-GMP regulates T3SS expression by altering exsA transcription through the cAMP-Vfr dependent PexsA promoter. Overexpression of YfiN, a c-di-GMP synthase, decreases T3SS reporter activity in PA103 and requires a functional GGDEF active site for full inhibition. Inhibition by YfiN does not require rsmYZ. YfiN expression decreases cAMP-Vfr signaling and coordinately inhibits PexsA-lacZ reporter activity. Consistent with the proposed model, YfiN expression in a vfr mutant does not further decrease T3SS reporter activity. These data indicate that the YfiN alters T3SS expression through transcriptional control of the cAMP-Vfr dependent PexsA promoter.


cAMP-Vfr, cyclic-di-GMP, ExsA, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, RsmAYZ, type III secretion system


viii, 64 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 53-64).


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Copyright © 2017 Adam Bailin

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Microbiology Commons