AIMS: Plasmids are critical for the pathogenicity of Yersinia pestis. In order to carry out a systematic investigation of their role in pathogenesis, we cured plasmids from Y. pestis. METHODS AND RESULTS: Each plasmid's replicon of Y. pestis was cloned into plasmid pEX18Gm containing a counter-selectable sacB gene, and was then introduced into Y. pestis strain 201 by electroporation. Strains containing recombinant plasmids were cultivated under antibiotic selection. The resultant plasmid-curing colonies, identified by specific polymerase chain reactions, were then cured off pEX18Gm under sucrose pressure. This method was used to successfully cure all four plasmids of Y. pestis, singly or in different combinations. CONCLUSIONS: Naturally evolving plasmids in Y. pestis are difficult to remove by conventional curing methods. We employed a method based on plasmid incompatibility to cure the plasmids from Y. pestis, which confirmed the efficacy of this method for curing plasmids with different types of replicons from one bacterium. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: There have been no reports on the curing of multiple plasmids by using replication mechanisms from one bacterium with this technique. In the present study, we were able to successfully apply this methodology to cure four plasmids from Y. pestis, confirming its feasibility.
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