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J Bacteriol. 2004 Aug;186(15):5147-52.

Genetics of metabolic variations between Yersinia pestis biovars and the proposal of a new biovar, microtus.

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  • 1Laboratory of Analytical Microbiology, National Center for Biomedical Analysis, Army Center for Microbial Detection and Research, Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Beijing 100071, China. yangrf@nic.bmi.ac.cn

Abstract

Yersinia pestis has been historically divided into three biovars: antiqua, mediaevalis, and orientalis. On the basis of this study, strains from Microtus-related plague foci are proposed to constitute a new biovar, microtus. Based on the ability to ferment glycerol and arabinose and to reduce nitrate, Y. pestis strains can be assigned to one of four biovars: antiqua (glycerol positive, arabinose positive, and nitrate positive), mediaevalis (glycerol positive, arabinose positive, and nitrate negative), orientalis (glycerol negative, arabinose positive, and nitrate positive), and microtus (glycerol positive, arabinose negative, and nitrate negative). A 93-bp in-frame deletion in glpD gene results in the glycerol-negative characteristic of biovar orientalis strains. Two kinds of point mutations in the napA gene may cause the nitrate reduction-negative characteristic in biovars mediaevalis and microtus, respectively. A 122-bp frameshift deletion in the araC gene may lead to the arabinose-negative phenotype of biovar microtus strains. Biovar microtus strains have a unique genomic profile of gene loss and pseudogene distribution, which most likely accounts for the human attenuation of this new biovar. Focused, hypothesis-based investigations on these specific genes will help delineate the determinants that enable this deadly pathogen to be virulent to humans and give insight into the evolution of Y. pestis and plague pathogenesis. Moreover, there may be the implications for development of biovar microtus strains as a potential vaccine.

PMID:
15262951
PMCID:
PMC451627
DOI:
10.1128/JB.186.15.5147-5152.2004
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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