Y. pestis is a nonmotile, non–spore-forming, Gram-negative bacillus with a tendency to- ward pleomorphism and bipolar staining. It is a member of the Enterobacteriaceae and is discussed with other members of the genus Yersinia. It shares features of the other Yersinia pathogenic for humans (Y. pseudotuberculosis, Y. enterocolitica), such as virulence plasmids and Yersinia outer membrane proteins (Yops). In addition, Y. pestis has two additional virulence plasmids, which code for a protein capsular antigen called F1 and enzymes with phospholipase, protease, and fibrinolytic activity. Y. pestis also has its own adhesin similar to the invasins of the other Yersinia.
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