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Infect Immun. 2008 Apr;76(4):1390-409. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01529-07. Epub 2008 Jan 28.

Braun lipoprotein (Lpp) contributes to virulence of yersiniae: potential role of Lpp in inducing bubonic and pneumonic plague.

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Departments of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-1070, USA.


Yersinia pestis evolved from Y. pseudotuberculosis to become the causative agent of bubonic and pneumonic plague. We identified a homolog of the Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium lipoprotein (lpp) gene in Yersinia species and prepared lpp gene deletion mutants of Y. pseudotuberculosis YPIII, Y. pestis KIM/D27 (pigmentation locus minus), and Y. pestis CO92 with reduced virulence. Mice injected via the intraperitoneal route with 5 x 10(7) CFU of the Deltalpp KIM/D27 mutant survived a month, even though this would have constituted a lethal dose for the parental KIM/D27 strain. Subsequently, these Deltalpp KIM/D27-injected mice were solidly protected against an intranasally administered, highly virulent Y. pestis CO92 strain when it was given as five 50% lethal doses (LD(50)). In a parallel study with the pneumonic plague mouse model, after 72 h postinfection, the lungs of animals infected with wild-type (WT) Y. pestis CO92 and given a subinhibitory dose of levofloxacin had acute inflammation, edema, and masses of bacteria, while the lung tissue appeared essentially normal in mice inoculated with the Deltalpp mutant of CO92 and given the same dose of levofloxacin. Importantly, while WT Y. pestis CO92 could be detected in the bloodstreams and spleens of infected mice at 72 h postinfection, the Deltalpp mutant of CO92 could not be detected in those organs. Furthermore, the levels of cytokines/chemokines detected in the sera were significantly lower in animals infected with the Deltalpp mutant than in those infected with WT CO92. Additionally, the Deltalpp mutant was more rapidly killed by macrophages than was the WT CO92 strain. These data provided evidence that the Deltalpp mutants of yersiniae were significantly attenuated and could be useful tools in the development of new vaccines.

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