Genomic Sequencing of an Attenuated Yersinia Pestis Strain Implicated in the Death of a Researcher

Yersinia pestis is the bacterium that causes plague in humans and animals, Globally, the World Health Organization reports 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague every year. Antibiotics are currently effective against plague, but if an infected person is not treated promptly, the disease is likely to cause illness or death. In this project the genome sequence of an attenuated strain, Y. pestis KIM D27, will be determined with 454 Titanium sequencing. Y. pestis KIM D27 is an attenuated strain used for laboratory research; a researcher at the University of Chicago who worked with this strain may have died from a Y. pestis infection in 2009.

The purpose of this project is to sequence the genome of the attenuated strain and compare it to the existing sequence of the progenitor strain, Y. pestis KIM 10. The changes that allow for attenuation can be validated and remaining potential factors that can cause a lethal infection in a human can be determined. This strain is in common usage and producing a high quality genome sequence will greatly benefit plague research. This strain of Y. pestis is subject to a HHS Select Agent Exclusion due to the deletion of a 100 kb region encoding the pgm locus. 


This project has been funded in whole or part with federal funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services under contract numbers N01-AI30071 and/or HHSN272200900007C.


Olaf Schneedwind, PhD
Louis Block Professor & Chair Department of Microbiolog

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