SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.31 issue5Xenodiagnosis, hemoculture and complement mediated lysis tests as criteria for selection of chronic chagasic patients for chemotherapy author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo

On-line version ISSN 1678-9946

Rev. Inst. Med. trop. S. Paulo vol.31 no.5 São Paulo Oct. 1989 



Plasmid composition and virulence-associated factors of Yersinia pestis isolates from a plague outbreak at the Paraíba State, Brazil (1)


Composição plasmidial e fatores associados à virulência em cepas de Yersinia pestis de um surto de peste no Estado da Paraíba, Brasil



Nilma Cintra LealI; Alzira Maria Paiva de AlmeidaI; Luís Carlos de Souza FerreiraII

ICentro de Pesquisas Aggeu Magalhães. Fundação Oswaldo Cruz. Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil
IILaboratório de Imunopatologia Keizo Asami and Departamento de Biofísica e Radiobiologia. Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

Address for correspondence




Pathogenic Yersinia pestis isolates were collected during a plague outbreak at the Paraiba State in 1986. The Y. pestis isolates were investigated for the presence of virulence-associated factors and plasmid content. All strains analysed were proficient in the expression of the VW and fraction 1 antigens, pigment adsorption and pesticin-fibronolysin-coagulase production. A similar plasmid profile composed by four plasmid with molecular weight of 60, 44, 14.9, and 6.4 Megadaltons (MD) was found in all strains. DNA cleavage with EcoRI restriction enzyme further demonstrated the uniform plasmid content of the Y. pestis isolates. Seven additional Y. pestis strains, previously isolated in the same region but in an endemic state, showed the same plasmid fingerprint. The lack of any detectable difference between epidemic and endemic isolates as well as the value of plasmid fingerprints in epidemiology of Y. pestis is discussed.

Key words: Yersinia pestis, plasmids, virulence-associated factors.


Cepas patogênicas de Yersinia pestis foram coletadas durante um surto de peste no Estado da Paraíba em 1986. Os isolados de Y. pestis foram analisados quanto a presença de fatores associados à virulência e conteúdo plasmidial. Todas as linhagens analisadas foram proficientes na expressão dos antígenos VW e fração 1, além de possuírem capacidade de adsorção de pigmentos e produção de pesticina-fibrinolisina-coagulase. Um perfil plasmidial semelhante composto por quatro plasmídeos com peso molecular de 60, 44, 14.9, e 6.4 MD foi encontrado em todas as linhagens. A clivagem do DNA plasmidial com a enzima de restrição EcoRI demonstrou o conteúdo plasmidial uniforme dos isolados de Y. pestis. Sete outras linhagens de Y. pestis, isoladas previamente no mesmo local mas em condição endêmica, mostraram o mesmo perfil plasmidial. A falta de diferenças entre os isolados epidêmicos e endêmicos assim como o uso do perfil plasmidial na epidemiologic de Y. pestis e discutida.



Full text available only in PDF format.

Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.




We are greatly indebted to Dr. R. Brubaker for the important advises on plasmid isolation procedure and to Mr. S. H. Almeida and Mrs. Y. Nakasawa for helpful technical assistance.



1. ALMEIDA, C. R.; ALMEIDA, A. M. P.; VIEIRA, J. B.; GUIDA, U. & BUTLER, T. - Plague in Brazil during two years of bacteriological and serological surveillance. Bull. Wld. Hlth. Org., 59: 591-597, 1981.         [ Links ]

2. ALMEIDA, A. M. P.; BRASIL, D. P.; CARVALHO, F. G. & ALMEIDA, C. R. - Isolamento de Yersinia pestis nos focos pestosos do Nordeste do Brasil no período de 1966 a 1982. Rev. Inst. Med. trop. S. Paulo, 27: 207-218, 1985.         [ Links ]

3. ALMEIDA, A. M. P.: BRASIL, D. P.; LEAL, N. C; MELO, M. E. B.; REGO, R. V. & ALMEIDA, C. R. - Estudos bacteriológicos e sorológieos de um surto de peste no estado da Paraíba, Brasil. Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz, 1989. (in press).         [ Links ]

4. BAHMANYAR, M. & CAVANAUGH, D. C. - Plague manual. Geneve, World Health Organization, 1976.         [ Links ]

5. BALTAZARD, M.; DAVIS, D. H. S.; DEVIGNAT, R.; GIRARD, G.; GOHAR, M. A.; KARTMAN, L.; MEYER, K. F.; PARKER, M. T.; POLLITZER, R.; PRINCE, P. M.; QUAN, S. F. & WAGLE, P - Recommended laboratory methods for the diagnosis of plague. Bull. Wld. Hlth. Org., 14: 457-509, 1956.         [ Links ]

6. BEESLEY, E. D.; BRUBAKER, R. R.; JANSSEN, W. A. & SURGALLA, H. J. - Pesticins. III - Expression of coagulase and mechanism of fibrinolysis. J. Bact., 94: 19-26, 1967.         [ Links ]

7. BENGURION, R. & SHAFFERMAN, A. - Essential virulence determinants of different Yersinia species are carried on a common plasmid. Plasmid, 5: 183-187, 1981.         [ Links ]

8. BRUBAKER, R. R. - Expression of virulence in Yersinia. In: SHELESSINGER, D., ed. Microbiology. New York, American Society for Microbiology, 1979. p. 168-171.         [ Links ]

9. BRUBAKER, R. R. - The genus Yersinia: biochemistry and genetics of virulence. Curr. Top. Microbiol. Immunol., 57: 111-158, 1972.         [ Links ]

10. BRUNNER, F.; MARGADANT, A.; PEDUZZI, R. & PIFFARETTI, J. C. - The plasmid pattern as an epidemiologic tool for Salmonella typhimurium epidemics: comparison with the lysotype. J. infect. Dis., 148: 7-11, 1983.         [ Links ]

11. CASSE, F.; BOUCHER, C; JULLIOT, J. S.; MICHEL, M. & DENAIRE, J. - Identification and characterization of large Plasmids in Rhizobium melillot using agarose gel electrophoresis. J. gen. Microbiol., 113: 229-242, 1979.         [ Links ]

12. FERBER, D. M. & BRUBAKER, R. R. - Plasmids in Yersinia pestis. Infect. Immun., 31: 839 841, 1981.         [ Links ]

13. ISHIGURO, N.; NAKAOKA, Y.; SATO, G. & TSUBOKA, M. - Plasmid DNA relatedness among different sero-groups of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. J. clin. Microbiol., 21: 662-665, 1985.         [ Links ]

14. LAIRD, W. J. & CAVANAUGH, D. C. - Correlation of autoagglutination and virulence of Yersinia. J. clin. Microbiol., 11: 430 432, 1980.         [ Links ]

15. MANIATIS, T.; FRITSCH, E. F. & SAMBROOK, J. - Molecular cloning. A laboratory manual. New York, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, 1982.         [ Links ]

16. MAYER, L. W. - Use of Plasmid profiles in epidemiologic survaillance of disease outbreaks and in tracing the transmission of antibiotic resistance. Clin. Microbiol. Rev., 1: 228-243, 1988.         [ Links ]

17. PORTNOY, D. A. & FALKOW, S. - Virulence-associated Plasmids from Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pestis. J. Bact., 148: 877-883, 1981.         [ Links ]

18. PORTNOY, D. A.; BLANK, H. F.; KINGSBURY, D. T. & FALKOW, S. - Genetic analysis of essential plasmid determinants of pathogenicity in Yersinia pestis. J. infect. Dis., 148: 297 304. 1983.         [ Links ]

19. PORTNOY, D. A. & MARTINEZ, R. J. - Role of a plasmid in the pathogenicity of Yersinia species. Curr. Top. Microbiol. Immunol., 118: 29 51, 1985.         [ Links ]

20. TIETZE, E. & TSCHAPE, H. - Plasmid pattern analysis of natural bacterial isolates and its epidemiological implication. J. Hyg. (Lond.), 90: 475-488, 1983.         [ Links ]

21. TSUKANO, H.; WAKE, A. & SAKAKIBARA, Y. - Plasmid like properties of the four virulence-associated factors of Yersinia pestis. Microbiol. Immunol., 30: 837 848, 1986.         [ Links ]

22. WARTENBERG, K.; WENINGER, J. & ROLLINGHORF, M. - Plasmids of Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis: analysis with restriction endonu cleases. Zbl. Bakt. Mikrobiol. Hyg., 268A: 213-219, 1988.         [ Links ]

23. YEUNG, K. H.; DILLON, J. R.; PAUZÉ, M. & WALLACE, E. - A novel 4.9 kilobase plasmid associated with an outbreak of penicillinase-producing Neisseria gonorrhoeae. J. infect Dis., 153: 1162 1165, 1986.         [ Links ]



Address for correspondence:
Dr. L. C. S. Ferreira
Laboratório de Imunopatologia Keizo Asami
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
Cidade Universitária
50739 Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

Recebido para publicação em 1/2/1989.



(1) Research supported by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the Brazilian National Research Council.

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License