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DNA Cell Biol. 2006 Nov;25(11):608-16.

Expression profiling of Yersinia pestis during mouse pulmonary infection.

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Center for Biomedical Inventions, The University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas, USA.


Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague, can be transmitted by infected flea bite or inhaled aerosol. Both routes of infection have a high mortality rate, and pneumonic infections of Y. pestis represent a significant concern as a tool of bioterrorism. Understanding the transcriptional program of this pathogen during pulmonary infection should be valuable in understanding plague pathogenesis, as well as potentially offering insights into new vaccines and therapeutics. Toward this goal we developed a long oligonucleotide microarray to the plague bacillus and evaluated the expression profiles of Y. pestis in vitro and in the mouse pulmonary infection model in vivo. The in vitro analysis compared expression patterns at 27 versus 37 degrees C, as a surrogate of the transition from the flea to the mammalian host. The in vivo analysis used intranasal challenge to the mouse lung. By amplifying the Y. pestis RNA from individual mouse lungs we were able to map the transcriptional profile of plague at postinfection days 1 to 3. Our data present a very different transcriptional profile between in vivo and in vitro expression, suggesting Y. pestis responds to a variety of host signals during infection. Of note was the number of genes found in genomic regions with altered %GC content that are upregulated within the mouse lung environment. These data suggest these regions may provide particularly promising targets for both vaccines and therapeutics.

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