Yersinia pseudotuberculosis Harbors a Type IV Pilus Gene Cluster that Contributes to Pathogenicity

  • François Collyn
  • Michael Marceau
  • Michel Simonet
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 529)


Two features suggest that Y. pseudotuberculosis may have acquired the pil operon by horizontal gene transfer: (i) the pil locus is not uniformly present throughout the species; (ii) whereas the mean G+C% content of the Y. pseudotuberculosis genome is 47%, that of the pil operon is 50.8%. This value is very close to the G+C% content of the genomes of the type IV pilus-producing species E. coli and Salmonella (51–52%). This favors the view that Y. pseudotuberculosis, which occupies the same ecological niche as these two other enterobacteria, may have acquired the type IV pilus locus from one of these species by genetic exchange in the natural habitat. The two Salmonella pil operons have been found located either on a conjugative plasmid (Kim and Komano, 1997) or a large (118 kb) pathogenicity island (Zhang et al., 2000). Other type IVB pilus gene clusters, in enteropathogenic E. coli and V. cholerae, were also found to be harbored either on a plasmid (Girón et al., 199; Girón et al., 1994) or a pathogenicity island (Karolis et al., 1999). In Y. pseudotuberculosis 32777, in which the type IV pilus gene cluster has been discovered, no plasmid other than the virulence plasmid pYV was detected. Thus, given the scenarios in S. enterica, E. coli and V. cholerae, it is tempting to speculate that the Y. pseudotuberculosis pil operon could constitute a novel “adaptation-pathogenicity” island, unknown up until now, which in addition to the already described High Pathogenicity Island (HPI) (Buchrieser et al., 1999) contributes to the virulence of Y. pseudotuberculosis.


Pathogenicity Island Yersinia Pestis Strain MC1061 Aspartic Acid Protease Prepilin Peptidase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Buchrieser, C., Rusniok, C., Frangeul, L., Couve, E., Billault, A., Kunst, F., Carniel, E., and Glaser, P., 1999, The 102-kilobase pgm locus of Yersinia pestis: sequence analysis and comparison of selected regions among different Yersinia pestis and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis strains. Infect. Immun. 67: 4851–4861.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Girón, J.A., Ho, A.S., and Schoolnik, G.K., 1991, An inducible bundle-forming pilus of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli. Science 254: 710–713.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Girón, J. A., Levine, M. M., and Kaper, J. B., 1994, Longus: a long pilus ultrastructure produced by human enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli. Mol. Microbiol. 12: 71–82.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Karaolis, D. K., Somara, S. D., Maneval Jr., R., Johnson, J. A., and Kaper, J. B., 1999, A bacteriophage encoding a pathogenicity island, a type-IV pilus and a phage receptor in cholera bacteria. Nature 399: 375–379.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Kim, S. R., and Komano, T., 1997, The plasmid R64 thin pilus identified as a type IV pilus. J. Bacteriol. 179: 3594–3603.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. LaPointe, C. F., and Taylor, R. K., 2000, The type 4 prepilin peptidases comprise a novel family of aspartic acid proteases. J. Biol. Chem. 275: 1502–1510.Google Scholar
  7. Manning, P. A., and Meyer, T. F., 1997. Type-4 pili: biogenesis, adhesins, protein export and DNA import. Proceedings of a workshop. Gene 192: 1–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Zhang, X. L., Tsui, I. S. C., Yip, M., Fung, A., Wong, W. D., Dai, K. X., Yang, Y., Hackett, J., and Morris C,. 2000, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi uses type IVB pili to enter human intestinal epithelial cells. Infect. Immun. 68: 3067–3073.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Yang, Y., Merriam, J. J., Mueller, J. P., and Isberg, R. R., 1996, The psa locus is responsible for thermoinducible binding of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis to cultured cells. Infect. Immun. 64: 2483–2489.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Yang, Y., and Isberg, R. R., 1997, Transcriptional regulation of the Yersinia pseudotuberculosis pH6 antigen adhesin by two envelope-associated components. Mol. Microbiol. 24: 499–510PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • François Collyn
    • 1
  • Michael Marceau
    • 1
  • Michel Simonet
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut de Biologie de LilleEquipe Mixte Inserm (E9919)-Université (JE2225)-Institut Pasteur de LilleLilleFrance

Personalised recommendations