is an important cause of enteritis and mesenteric adenitis in many countries. However the pathogenesis of the disease caused by this organism has not been fully elucidated. Most isolates from clinical material possess two independent properties associated with virulence whose relative contribution to the development of disease is not known. These are the ability to penetrate the intestinal wall, which is thought to be controlled by a plasmid gene, and the production of heat-stable enterotoxin, which is controlled by a chromosomal gene. In this study, we infected neonatal gnotobiotic piglets with strains of expressing these two properties in various combinations. The suitability of the piglet model was shown in experiments in which piglets fed virulent serogroup O3 developed a clinical illness related to the size of the inoculum, which was accompanied by intestinal lesions similar to those reported in naturally and experimentally infected people and animals. The results confirmed the key role of a 47 x 10-mol. wt plasmid in the pathogenicity of , but suggested that penetration of the intestinal wall may be governed by chromosomal rather than plasmid-borne genes. No role for enterotoxin in the pathogenesis of yersiniosis was shown, although there was evidence that enterotoxin may promote intra-intestinal proliferation of , thus favouring increased shedding of bacteria and encouraging their spread between hosts.


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