Analysis of Yersinia pestis Gene Expression in the Flea Vector

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Yersinia pestis is the causative agent of plague. Unlike the other pathogenic Yersinia species, Y. pestis has evolved an arthropod-borne route of transmission, alternately infecting flea and mammalian hosts. Distinct subsets of genes are hypothesized to be differentially expressed during infection of the arthropod vector and mammalian host. Genes crucial for mammalian infection are referred to as virulence factors whilst genes playing a role in the flea vector are termed transmission factors. This article serves as a review of known factors involved in flea-borne transmission and introduces an ‘in vivo’ microarray approach to elucidating the genetic basis of Y. pestis infection of- and transmission by the flea.