Length control of the injectisome needle requires only one molecule of Yop secretion protein P (YscP)
The needle length of the Yersinia spp. injectisome is determined by Yop secretion protein P (YscP), an early substrate of the injectisome itself. There is a linear correlation between the length of YscP and the length of the needle, suggesting that YscP acts as a molecular ruler. However, it is not known whether one single molecule of YscP suffices to control the length of one needle or whether several molecules of YscP are exported in alternation with the needle subunit YscF until the needle length matches the ruler length, which would stop needle growth. To address this question, three different strains expressing simultaneously a short and a long version of YscP were engineered. The experimentally obtained needle length distribution was compared with the distributions predicted by stochastic modeling of the various possible scenarios. The experimental data are compatible with the single ruler model and not with the scenarios involving more than one ruler per needle.