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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2001 Dec 18;205(2):159-64.

Yersinia virulence: more than a plasmid.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Ave, Campus Box 8208, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


The genus Yersinia is composed of 11 species, three of which are pathogenic in humans. The three pathogens, Y. pestis, Y. enterocolitica, and Y. pseudotuberculosis, cause a broad spectrum of disease ranging from pneumonic plague to acute gastroenteritis. Each of the three requires a large, well-defined plasmid for full virulence, as well as many chromosomally encoded virulence factors (CEVF). This review will describe these CEVF and their roles in virulence. In addition, a possible model for key events in Y. enterocolitica pathogenesis is described based on information revealed by analysis of several of the CEVF.

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