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Microbiology. 1999 Jan;145 ( Pt 1):197-209. doi: 10.1099/13500872-145-1-197.

The haemin storage (Hms+) phenotype of Yersinia pestis is not essential for the pathogenesis of bubonic plague in mammals.


The haemin storage (Hms+) phenotype of Yersinia pestis enables this bacillus to form greenish/brown or red colonies on haemin or Congo Red agar plates, respectively, at 26 but not 37 degrees C. Escherichia coli strains that contain mutations in genes essential for siderophore biosynthesis, porphyrin generation and/or haemin transport remain unable to utilize exogenous haemin as a nutritional iron or porphyrin source when transformed with the cloned Y. pestis hmsHFRS locus. Further physiological analysis of the Hms+ phenotype of Y. pestis strain KIM6+ suggests that the haemin and inorganic iron stored by the Hms system was not used nutritionally under subsequent iron-deficient conditions. In vitro analysis of the bactericidal effects of hydrogen peroxide, superoxide and nitric oxide showed that Hms- Y. pestis cells, in certain cases, were more susceptible than the Hms+ parent cells to these reactive oxygen species at 26 and/or 37 degrees C. In adherence assays, a higher percentage of Hms+ cells were associated with HeLa cells and normal human neutrophils, compared to Hms- cells. However, the Hms+ phenotype did not provide any additional protection against the killing effects of neutrophils. Finally, LD50 analysis in subcutaneously infected mice showed that an Hms- strain was slightly more virulent than Hms+, indicating that the Hms phenotype is not essential for the pathogenesis of bubonic plague in mammals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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