Volume 59, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Yersinia pestis, the etiologic agent of plague, carries three prototypic plasmids with sizes of 110 kb (pFra, pTox), 70 kb (pLcr, pVW, pCad), and 9.5 kb (pPla, pPst). Studies suggest that geographic isolates of Y. pestis may be differentiated by plasmid profiles. Yersinia pestis isolated from the western United States harbor an additional plasmid, estimated to be approximately 19 kb in size. This cryptic plasmid was characterized by restriction endonuclease digestion, amplification and sequencing of the plasminogen activator gene segment, Southern blotting, and visualized by electron microscopy. Results revealed that this cryptic plasmid is a supercoiled DNA plasmid, 18.85+/-0.59 (mean+/-SD) kb in length, and is a dimer of the 9.5-kb plasmid. The genetic reason for the appearance of this form of the 9.5-kb plasmid in Y. pestis from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas is under study.


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