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Infect Immun. 1988 Aug;56(8):2139-43.

Inhibition of phagocytosis in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis: a virulence plasmid-encoded ability involving the Yop2b protein.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Microbiology, Swedish Defence Research Establishment, Umeå, Sweden.


Virulence plasmid-containing cells of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis had the ability to inhibit phagocytosis by mouse peritoneal macrophages cultured in vitro, but cells of its plasmid-cured derivative did not. Inhibition was most pronounced when the pathogen was incubated under Ca2+-deficient conditions, which allowed a high level of expression of outer membrane proteins (Yops). The addition of 2.5 mM Ca2+ to the growth medium reduced the degree of inhibition by the pathogen, but it was still significantly higher than that of the plasmid-cured strain. An avirulent mutant strain, from which the entire yopH gene was deleted, was impaired in its phagocytosis inhibition ability. This mutant could be trans-complemented by the yopH+ gene back to the wild-type phenotype with respect to virulence, as well as the ability to inhibit phagocytosis, demonstrating that the ability to inhibit phagocytosis is an important virulence function. The mutant strain was still cytotoxic for HeLa cells, indicating that inhibition of phagocytosis can be genetically separated from the ability to cause a cytotoxic effect.

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