The Two-Component System CpxRA Negatively Regulates the Locus of Enterocyte Effacement of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli Involving σ32 and Lon protease
virF is the master regulator which activates the virulence determinant genes of Shigella spp. such as ipaBCD and virG. We previously reported that expression of virF itself is regulated in a pH-dependent manner and that cpxA, a sensor of a two-component regulatory system, is involved in this regulation (S. Nakayama and H. Watanabe, J. Bacteriol. 177:5062-5069, 1995). Disruption of cpxR, which has been thought to be the cognate response regulator of cpxA (J. Dong, S. Iuchi, H.-S. Kwan, Z. Lue, and E. C. C. Lin, Gene 136:227-230, 1993), abolished virF expression almost completely. Purified CpxR bound directly to the upstream region of virF. Binding capacity was enhanced when CpxR was phosphorylated by coincubation with acetyl phosphate in vitro. Furthermore, we observed that phosphorylated CpxR could activate virF transcription in vitro. These results clearly indicated that CpxR was an essential activator for virF expression and strongly suggested that the binding of phosphorylated CpxR to the target site upstream of the virF gene induced a direct activation of virF transcription.