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Infect Immun. 2004 Oct;72(10):5613-21.

Structural organization of the pFra virulence-associated plasmid of rhamnose-positive Yersinia pestis.

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Max von Pettenkofer Institute for Hygiene and Medical Microbiology, Munich, Germany.


The 137,036-bp plasmid pG8786 from rhamnose-positive Yersinia pestis G8786 isolated from the high mountainous Caucasian plague focus in Georgia is an enlarged form of the pFra virulence-associated plasmid containing genes for synthesis of the antigen fraction 1 and phospholipase D. In addition to the completely conserved genes of the pFra backbone, pG8786 contains two large regions consisting of 4,642 and 32,617 bp, designated regions 1 and 2, respectively. Region 1 retains a larger part of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi plasmid pHCM2 resembling the backbone of pFra replicons, while region 2 contains 25 open reading frames with high levels of similarity to the transfer genes of the F-like plasmids. Surprisingly, region 1 is also present in the pFra plasmid of avirulent Y. pestis strain 91001 isolated in Inner Mongolia, People's Republic of China. Despite the fact that some genes typically involved in conjugative transfer of the F-like replicons are missing in pG8786, we cannot exclude the possibility that pG8786 might be transmissive under certain conditions. pG8786 seems to be an ancient form of the pFra group of plasmids that were conserved due to the strict geographical isolation of rhamnose-positive Y. pestis strains in the high mountainous Caucasian plague locus.

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