Virulence and arsenic resistance in Yersiniae

C Neyt, M Iriarte, V H Thi, G R Cornelis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The genus Yersinia contains three pathogenic species: Yersinia pestis, Y. pseudotuberculosis, and Y. enterocolitica. Only a few biotypes and serotypes of Y. enterocolitica are pathogenic, and these form two distinct groups: some are of low virulence, and they are encountered worldwide; others, mainly encountered in North America, are markedly more virulent. All pathogenic yersiniae possess a 70-kb virulence plasmid called pYV which encodes secreted antihost proteins called Yops as well as a type III secretion machinery that is required for Yop secretion. Genes encoding Yop synthesis and secretion are tightly clustered in three quadrants of the pYV plasmid. We show here that in the low-virulence strains of Y. enterocolitica, the fourth quadrant of the plasmid contains a new class II transposon, Tn2502. This transposon encodes a defective transposase, but transposition can be complemented in trans by Tn2501, another class II transposon. Tn2502 was not detected in the pYV plasmids of the more virulent American strains of Y. enterocolitica, of Y. pseudotuberculosis, and of Y. pestis. Tn2502 confers arsenite and arsenate resistance. This resistance involves four genes; three are homologous to the arsRBC genes present on the Escherichia coli chromosome, but no homolog of the fourth one, arsH, has been found. The systematic presence of such a resistance operon on a virulence plasmid is unusual and could be related to the recent spread of low-virulence Y. enterocolitica strains. The presence of this ars operon also constitutes the first significant difference between the pYV plasmids from different Yersinia species.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)612-9
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Bacteriology
    Volume179
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1997

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