Role of RsmA in the regulation of swarming motility and virulence factor expression in Proteus mirabilis

Shwu Jen Liaw, Hsin Chih Lai, Shen Wu Ho, Kwen Tay Luh, Won Bo Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

73 Scopus citations


Swarming by Proteus mirabilis involves differentiation of typical short vegetative rods into filamentous hyper-flagellated swarm cells that undergo cycles of rapid and co-ordinated population migration across surfaces and exhibit high levels of virulence gene expression. RsmA (repressor of secondary metabolites) and CsrA, its homologue in Escherichia coli, control many phenotypic traits, such as motility and pathogenesis in Erwinia species, glycogen biosynthesis, cell size and biofilm formation in Escherichia coli and swarming motility in Serratia marcescens. To investigate the role of RsmA in Proteus mirabilis, the rsmA gene from Proteus mirabilis (hereafter referred to as rsmAPm) was cloned. RsmAPm showed high sequence similarity to Escherichia coli CsrA and RsmA cloned from Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora, Serratia marcescens, Haemophilus influenzae and Bacillus subtilis and could complement an Escherichia coli csrA mutant in glycogen synthesis. A low-copy-number plasmid carrying rsmAPm expressed from its native promoter caused suppression of swarming motility and expression of virulence factors in Proteus mirabilis, mRNA stability assays suggested that RsmAPm inhibited virulence factor expression through promoting mRNA degradation. RsmA homologues cloned from Serratia marcescens and Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora could also inhibit swarming and virulence factor expression in Proteus mirabilis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 01 01 2003
Externally publishedYes


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