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Yersinia Pestis, Plasminogen Activator, Omptin, Pathogenicity Factor, Pathogenesis, Plague

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The Gram-negative bacterium Yersinia pestis causes plague, a fatal flea-borne anthropozoonosis, which can progress to aerosol-transmitted pneumonia. Y. pestis overcomes the innate immunity of its host thanks to many pathogenicity factors, including plasminogen activator, Pla. This factor is a broad-spectrum outer membrane protease also acting as adhesin and invasin. Y. pestis uses Pla adhesion and proteolytic capacity to manipulate the fibrinolytic cascade and immune system to produce bacteremia necessary for pathogen transmission via fleabite or aerosols. Because of microevolution, Y. pestis invasiveness has increased significantly after a single amino-acid substitution (I259T) in Pla of one of the oldest Y. pestis phylogenetic groups. This mutation caused a better ability to activate plasminogen. In paradox with its fibrinolytic activity, Pla cleaves and inactivates the tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI), a key inhibitor of the coagulation cascade. This function in the plague remains enigmatic. Pla (or pla) had been used as a specific marker of Y. pestis, but its solitary detection is no longer valid as this gene is present in other species of Enterobacteriaceae. Though recovering hosts generate anti-Pla antibodies, Pla is not a good subunit vaccine. However, its deletion increases the safety of attenuated Y. pestis strains, providing a means to generate a safe live plague vaccine.

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Biomolecules, v. 10, issue 11, art. 1554