Survey of the irp2 gene among Yersinia pestis strains isolated during several plague outbreaks in northeast Brazil

Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. Jan-Mar 1994;89(1):87-92. doi: 10.1590/s0074-02761994000100015.


The irp2 gene codes for a 190 kDa protein (HMWP2) synthesized when highly pathogenic Yersinia are grown under conditions of iron starvation. In this work, the presence of irp2 in strains of Y. pestis isolated from different hosts during several plague outbreaks in the foci of Northeast Brazil was studied. For this purpose, 53 strains were spotted onto nylon filters and their DNA was hybridized with the A13 probe which is a 1 kb fragment of the irp2 coding sequence. All strains except two hybridized with the probe. However, when the initial stock culture of these two strains were analyzed, they both proved to be positive with the A13 probe, indicating that the locus was lost after subculture in vitro but was always present in vivo. To examine the degree of conservation of the chromosomal fragment carrying irp2 among Brazilian strains, the hybridization profiles of 15 strains from different outbreaks, different hosts and different foci were compared. The hybridization profiles of these strains were all identical when their DNA was digested with either EcoRI, EcoRV or AvaII, indicating that the restriction sites surrounding the irp2 locus are very well conserved among Northeast Brazilian strains of Y. pestis. Altogether, these results suggest that the irp2 chromosomal region should be of prime importance for the bacteria during their multiplication in the host.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Disease Vectors
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Plague / epidemiology
  • Plague / transmission
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Yersinia pestis / genetics*
  • Yersinia pestis / isolation & purification