Although Yersinia pestis is classified as a ‘‘high-virulence’’ pathogen, some host species are variably susceptible to disease. Coyotes (Canis latrans) exhibit mild, if any, symptoms during infection, but antibody production occurs postinfection. This immune response has been reported to be against the F1 capsule, although little subsequent characterization has been conducted. To further define the nature of coyote humoral immunity to plague, qualitative serology was conducted to assess the antiplague antibody repertoire. Humoral responses to six plasmid-encoded Y. pestis virulence factors were first examined. Of 20 individual immune coyotes, 90% were reactive to at least one other antigen in the panel other than F1. The frequency of reactivity to low calcium response plasmid (pLcr)-encoded Yersinia protein kinase A (YpkA) and Yersinia outer protein D (YopD) was significantly greater than that previously observed in a murine model for plague. Additionally, both V antigen and plasminogen activator were reactive with over half of the serum samples tested. Reactivity to F1 was markedly less frequent in coyotes (35%). Twenty previously tested antibody-negative samples were also examined. While the majority were negative across the panel, 15% were positive for 1–3 non-F1 antigens. In vivo–induced antigen technology employed to identify novel chromosomal genes of Y. pestis that are up-regulated during infection resulted in the identification of five proteins, including a flagellar component (FliP) that was uniquely reactive with the coyote serum compared with immune serum from two other host species. Collectively, these data suggest that humoral immunity to pLcr-encoded antigens and the pesticin plasmid (pPst)-encoded Pla antigen may be relevant to plague resistance in coyotes. The serologic profile of Y. pestis chromosomal antigens up-regulated in vivo specific to C. latrans may provide insight into the differences in the pathogen-host responses during Y. pestis infection.
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Vol. 47 • No. 1