Remodeling of the host cytoskeleton is a common strategy employed by bacterial pathogens. Although there is vigorous investigation of the cell biology underlying these bacterially mediated cytoskeleton modifications, knowledge of the plasticity and dynamics of the bacterial signaling networks that regulate the expression of genes necessary for these phenotypes is lacking. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli attaches to enterocytes, forming pedestal-like structures. Pedestal formation requires the expression of the locus-of-enterocyte-effacement (LEE) and espFu genes. The LEE encodes a molecular syringe, a type III secretion system (T3SS) used by pathogens to translocate effectors such as EspFu into the host cell. By using a combination of genetic, biochemical, and cell biology approaches, we show that pedestal formation relies on posttranscriptional regulation by two small RNAs (sRNAs), GlmY and GlmZ. The GlmY and GlmZ sRNAs are unique; they have extensive secondary structures and work in concert. Although these sRNAs may offer unique insights into RNA and posttranscriptional biology, thus far, only one target and one mechanism of action (exposure of the ribosome binding site from the glmS gene to promote its translation) has been described. Here we uncovered new targets and two different molecular mechanisms of action of these sRNAs. In the case of EspFu expression, they promote translation by cleavage of the transcript, while in regard to the LEE, they promote destabilization of the mRNA. Our findings reveal that two unique sRNAs act in concert through different molecular mechanisms to coordinate bacterial attachment to mammalian cells.
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