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The Virulence Plasmid Of Shigellae: An Archipelago Of Pathogenicity Islands?

C. Parsot, P. Sansonetti
Published 1999 · Biology

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Shigella strains are gram-negative, nonsporulating, nonencapsulated, facultative aerobic, nonmotile, straight rods that belong to the family Enterobacteriaceae and to the tribe Escherichiaeae. These observations suggest that virulence plasmids are made up of conserved building blocks and that some differences between various plasmids might be the result of shuffling of these building blocks. This chapter focuses on genes carried by the virulence plasmid that are or might be involved in the pathogenicity of Shigella. The virulence plasmid is an IncFII replicon, and functions involved in plasmid maintenance and stability have been recently described. Three genes carried by the virulence plasmid have been implicated in the ability of Shigella to move within the cytoplasm of infected cells: icsA (virG), sopA (icsP),and virK. The current model proposes that binding of H-NS to the virB promoter at low temperature prevents its activation by VirF. SepA homologs such as PssA from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and EspP from enterohemorrhagic E. coli are also encoded by virulence plasmids and are flanked by sequences related to IS600,IS911,IS203, and IS7. Two different genes, designated apy and phoN-Sf, encoding periplasmic phosphatases about 25 kDa have been cloned from the virulence plasmid of two S. flexneri isolates of serotype 2a. So far, all the proteins identified as or proposed to be effectors of the specific interactions that occur between Shigella and host cells are encoded by the virulence plasmid.
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