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Nature. 1988 Aug 11;334(6182):522-4.

Increased virulence of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis by two independent mutations.

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Department of Cell and Microbiology, Swedish Defence Research Establishment, UmeƄ.


A chromosomally encoded protein, which mediates invasion into HeLa cells was recently identified in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. The role of this protein (invasin) in the virulence process was not, however, investigated. We show that mutation of the invasin gene in Y. pseudotuberculosis abolishes the ability of the bacteria to invade HeLa cells. When mice were challenged by intraperitoneal injection both the mutant and the wild-type strain produced infections of similar virulence but mutant showed a slower rate of infection after oral challenge. A double mutant, carrying an additional mutation in the gene coding for the Yop1 protein, was also constructed. The double mutant was significantly more virulent than either the wild-type or the corresponding single mutants. Y. pestis, in contrast to Y. pseudotuberculosis lacks the ability to express either invasin or Yop1, sequence analysis of the yopA gene from both Y. pestis and Y. pseudotuberculosis shows that the yopA gene of Y. pestis contains a point-mutation leading to a reading-frame shift. When the yopA+ gene was introduced into Y. pestis the virulence of this strain was reduced. These results may provide insight into the rise and fall of plague epidemics caused by Y. pestis.

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