Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 10456941
Infect. Immun. 1999 Sep;67(9):4851-61
We report the complete 119,443-bp sequence of the pgm locus from Yersinia pestis and its flanking regions. Sequence analysis confirms that the 102-kb unstable pgm locus is composed of two distinct parts: the pigmentation segment and a high-pathogenicity island (HPI) which carries virulence genes involved in iron acquisition (yersiniabactin biosynthetic gene cluster). Within the HPI, three genes coding for proteins related to phage proteins were uncovered. They are located at both extremities indicating that the entire HPI was acquired en bloc by phage-mediated horizontal transfer. We identified, within the pigmentation segment, two novel loci that may be involved in virulence: a fimbriae gene cluster and a locus probably encoding a two component regulatory system similar to the BvgAS regulatory system of Bordetella pertussis. Three genes containing frameshift mutations and two genes interrupted by insertion element insertion were found within this region. To investigate diversity among different Y. pestis and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis strains, the sequence of selected regions of the pgm locus and flanking regions were compared from 20 different Y. pestis and 10 Y. pseudotuberculosis strains. The results showed that the genes interrupted in Y. pestis are intact in Y. pseudotuberculosis. However, one of these mutations, in the bvgS homologue, is only present in Y. pestis strains of biovar Orientalis and not in those of the biovars Antiqua and Medievalis. The results obtained by analysis of variable positions in the sequence are in accordance with historical records, confirming that biovar Orientalis is the most recent lineage. Furthermore, sequence comparisons among 29 Yersinia strains suggest that Y. pestis is a recently emerged pathogen that is probably entering the initial phase of reductive evolution.