Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Yersinia pestis show increased outer membrane permeability to hydrophobic agents which correlates with lipopolysaccharide acyl-chain fluidity

Microbiology (Reading). 1998 Jun;144 ( Pt 6):1517-26. doi: 10.1099/00221287-144-6-1517.


The hydrophobic probe N-phenyl-1-naphthylamine accumulated less in non-pathogenic Yersinia spp. and non-pathogenic and pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica than in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis or Yersinia pestis. This was largely due to differences in the activity of efflux systems, but also to differences in outer membrane permeability because uptake of the probe in KCN/arsenate-poisoned cells was slower in the former group than in Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. pestis. The probe accumulation rate was higher in Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. pestis grown at 37 degrees C than at 26 degrees C and was always highest in Y. pestis. These yersiniae had LPSs with shorter polysaccharides than Y. enterocolitica, particularly when grown at 37 degrees C. Gel<-->liquid-crystalline phase transitions (Tc 28-31 degrees C) were observed in LPS aggregates of Y. enterocolitica grown at 26 and 37 degrees C, with no differences between non-pathogenic and pathogenic strains. Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. pestis LPSs showed no phase transitions and, although the fluidity of LPSs of Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. enterocolitica grown at 26 degrees C were close below the Tc of the latter, they were always in a more fluid state than Y. enterocolitica LPS. Comparison with previous studies of Salmonella choleraesuis subsp. choleraesuis serotype minnesota rough LPS showed that the increased fluidity and absence of transition of Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. pestis LPSs cannot be explained by their shorter polysaccharides and suggested differences at the lipid A/core level. It is proposed that differences in LPS-LPS interactions and efflux activity explain the above observations and reflect the adaptation of Yersinia spp. to different habitats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 1-Naphthylamine / analogs & derivatives*
  • 1-Naphthylamine / pharmacokinetics
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects*
  • Deoxycholic Acid / pharmacology
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Fluorescent Dyes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Membrane Fluidity / drug effects*
  • Species Specificity
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors
  • Yersinia / chemistry
  • Yersinia / drug effects*
  • Yersinia / metabolism


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Deoxycholic Acid
  • N-phenyl-1-naphthylamine
  • 1-Naphthylamine