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FEBS Lett. 2001 Aug 24;504(1-2):69-72.

The Pla surface protease/adhesin of Yersinia pestis mediates bacterial invasion into human endothelial cells.

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Division of General Microbiology, Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 56, FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland.


The plasminogen activator Pla of Yersinia pestis belongs to the omptin family of enterobacterial surface proteases and is responsible for the highly efficient invasion of the plague bacterium from the subcutaneous infection site into the circulation. Y. pestis has been reported to invade human epithelial cells. Here, we investigated the role of Pla in bacterial invasion into human endothelial cells. Expression of Pla in recombinant Escherichia coli XL1(pMRK1) enhanced bacterial invasion into ECV304 cells. The invasiveness was not affected by substitution mutation at the residues S99 or D206 that are needed for the proteolytic activity of Pla. Pla-expressing bacteria adhered to the extracellular matrix of ECV304 cells. Only weak adhesion and poor invasion were seen with the recombinant E. coli XL1(pMRK2), which expresses the omptin homolog from E. coli. The results identify Pla as an invasion protein of Y. pestis and show that the invasive function does not involve the proteolytic activity of Pla.

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