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Open Access Research article

Yersinia enterocolitica palearctica serobiotype O:3/4 - a successful group of emerging zoonotic pathogens

Julia Batzilla1, Uladzimir Antonenka1, Dirk Höper2, Jürgen Heesemann1 and Alexander Rakin1*

Author Affiliations

1 Max von Pettenkofer-Institute, LMU, Munich, Germany

2 Institute of Diagnostic Virology, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:348  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-348

Published: 6 July 2011

Abstract

Background

High-pathogenic Y. enterocolitica ssp. enterocolitica caused several human outbreaks in Northern America. In contrast, low pathogenic Y. enterocolitica ssp. palearctica serobiotype O:3/4 is responsible for sporadic cases worldwide with asymptomatic pigs being the main source of infection. Genomes of three Y. enterocolitica ssp. palearctica serobiotype O:3/4 human isolates (including the completely sequenced Y11 German DSMZ type strain) were compared to the high-pathogenic Y. enterocolitica ssp. enterocolitica 8081 O:8/1B to address the peculiarities of the O:3/4 group.

Results

Most high-pathogenicity-associated determinants of Y. enterocolitica ssp. enterocolitica (like the High-Pathogenicity Island, yts1 type 2 and ysa type 3 secretion systems) are absent in Y. enterocolitica ssp. palearctica serobiotype O:3/4 genomes. On the other hand they possess alternative putative virulence and fitness factors, such as a different ysp type 3 secretion system, an RtxA-like and insecticidal toxins, and a N-acetyl-galactosamine (GalNAc) PTS system (aga-operon). Horizontal acquisition of two prophages and a tRNA-Asn-associated GIYep-01 genomic island might also influence the Y. enterocolitica ssp. palearctica serobiotype O:3/4 pathoadaptation. We demonstrated recombination activity of the PhiYep-3 prophage and the GIYep-01 island and the ability of the aga-operon to support the growth of the Y. enterocolitica ssp. enterocolitica O:8/1B on GalNAc.

Conclusions

Y. enterocolitica ssp. palearctica serobiotype O:3/4 experienced a shift to an alternative patchwork of virulence and fitness determinants that might play a significant role in its host pathoadaptation and successful worldwide dissemination.