Evolutionary genetics: CCR5 mutation and plague protection

Nature. 2004 Feb 12;427(6975):606. doi: 10.1038/427606a.


A recent and prevalent mutation in the chemokine receptor CCR5 in humans of northern European ancestry has been proposed to provide protection against bubonic plague. Here we infect both normal and CCR5-deficient mice with the bacterium Yersinia pestis, the cause of the plague epidemics that wiped out one-third of Europeans in the Middle Ages, and find no difference in either bacterial growth or survival time between the two groups. Unless the pathogenesis of Yersinia infection differs markedly between mice and humans, our results indicate that CCR5 deficiency in people is unlikely to protect against plague.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Plague / genetics*
  • Plague / microbiology
  • Plague / mortality
  • Receptors, CCR5 / deficiency
  • Receptors, CCR5 / genetics*
  • Receptors, CCR5 / metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Survival Rate
  • Yersinia pestis / physiology


  • Receptors, CCR5