Deletion of the braun lipoprotein-encoding gene and altering the function of lipopolysaccharide attenuate the plague bacterium

Jian Sha, Michelle L. Kirtley, Christina J. van Lier, Shaofei Wang, Tatiana E. Erova, Elena V. Kozlova, Anthony Cao, Yingzi Cong, Eric C. Fitts, Jason A. Rosenzweig, Ashok K. Chopra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Braun (murein) lipoprotein (Lpp) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) are major components of the outer membranes of Enterobacteriaceae family members that are capable of triggering inflammatory immune responses by activating Toll-like receptors 2 and 4, respectively. Expanding on earlier studies that demonstrated a role played by Lpp in Yersinia pestis virulence in mouse models of bubonic and pneumonic plague, we characterized an msbB in-frame deletion mutant incapable of producing an acyltransferase that is responsible for the addition of lauric acid to the lipid A moiety of LPS, as well as a δlpp δmsbB double mutant of the highly virulent Y. pestis CO92 strain. Although the δmsbB single mutant was minimally attenuated, the δlpp single mutant and the δlpp δmsbB double mutant were significantly more attenuated than the isogenic wild-type (WT) bacterium in bubonic and pneumonic animal models (mouse and rat) of plague. These data correlated with greatly reduced survivability of the aforementioned mutants in murine macrophages. Furthermore, the δlpp δmsbB double mutant was grossly compromised in its ability to disseminate to distal organs in mice and in evoking cytokines/chemokines in infected animal tissues. Importantly, mice that survived challenge with the δlpp δmsbB double mutant, but not the δlpp or δmsbB single mutant, in a pneumonic plague model were significantly protected against a subsequent lethal WT CO92 rechallenge. These data were substantiated by the fact that the δlpp δmsbB double mutant maintained an immunogenicity comparable to that of the WT strain and induced long-lasting T-cell responses against heat-killed WT CO92 antigens. Taken together, the data indicate that deletion of the msbB gene augmented the attenuation of the δlpp mutant by crippling the spread of the double mutant to the peripheral organs of animals and by inducing cytokine/chemokine responses. Thus, the δlpp δmsbB double mutant could provide a new live-attenuated background vaccine candidate strain, and this should be explored in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-828
Number of pages14
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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