In recent years it has become clear that small non-coding RNAs function as regulatory elements in bacterial virulence and bacterial stress responses. We tested for the presence of the small non-coding GcvB RNAs in Y. pestis as possible regulators of gene expression in this organism.
In this study, we report that the Yersinia pestis KIM6 gcvB gene encodes two small RNAs. Transcription of gcvB is activated by the GcvA protein and repressed by the GcvR protein. The gcvB-encoded RNAs are required for repression of the Y. pestis dppA gene, encoding the periplasmic-binding protein component of the dipeptide transport system, showing that the GcvB RNAs have regulatory activity. A deletion of the gcvB gene from the Y. pestis KIM6 chromosome results in a decrease in the generation time of the organism as well as a change in colony morphology.