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Infect Immun. 1985 August; 49(2): 291–297.
PMCID: PMC262013

Demonstration of a capsule plasmid in Bacillus anthracis.


Virulent and certain avirulent strains of Bacillus anthracis harbor a plasmid, designated pXO2, which is involved in the synthesis of capsules. Two classes of rough, noncapsulated (Cap-) variants were isolated from the capsule-producing (Cap+) Pasteur vaccine strains ATCC 6602 and ATCC 4229. One class was cured of pXO2, and the other class still carried it. Reversion to Cap+ was demonstrable only in rough variants which had retained pXO2. Proof that pXO2 is involved in capsule synthesis came from experiments in which the plasmid was transferred by CP-51-mediated transduction and by a mating system in which plasmid transfer is mediated by a Bacillus thuringiensis fertility plasmid, pXO12. Cells of Bacillus cereus and a previously noncapsulated (pXO2-) strain of B. anthracis produced capsules after the acquisition of pXO2.

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Selected References

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