Apr 16, 2020

A refined model of how Yersinia pestis produces a transmissible infection in its flea vector

PLoS Pathogens
Amélie DewitteFlorent Sebbane


In flea-borne plague, blockage of the flea's foregut by Yersinia pestis hastens transmission to the mammalian host. Based on microscopy observations, we first suggest that flea blockage results from primary infection of the foregut and not from midgut colonization. In this model, flea infection is characterized by the recurrent production of a mass that fills the lumen of the proventriculus and encompasses a large number of Y. pestis. This recurrence phase ends when the proventricular cast is hard enough to block blood ingestion. We further showed that ymt (known to be essential for flea infection) is crucial for cast production, whereas the hmsHFRS operon (known to be essential for the formation of the biofilm that blocks the gut) is needed for cast consolidation. By screening a library of mutants (each lacking a locus previously known to be upregulated in the flea gut) for biofilm formation, we found that rpiA is important for flea blockage but not for colonization of the midgut. This locus may initially be required to resist toxic compounds within the proventricular cast. However, once the bacterium has adapted to the flea, rpiA helps to form the biofilm that consolidates the proventricular cast. Lastly, we used genetic tech...Continue Reading

  • References45
  • Citations


  • This paper may not have been cited yet.

Mentioned in this Paper

Up-Regulation (Physiology)
Flea Infestation
Primary Infection NOS
Screening Generic
Primitive Midgut Structure
Biological Evolution
Sudden Death

Related Feeds

Biofilm & Infectious Disease

Biofilm formation is a key virulence factor for a wide range of microorganisms that cause chronic infections.Here is the latest research on biofilm and infectious diseases.


Biofilms are adherent bacterial communities embedded in a polymer matrix and can cause persistent human infections that are highly resistant to antibiotics. Discover the latest research on Biofilms here.