Plague and Yersinia pestis

Head of Team





Dr. Florent Sebbane received his Ph.D. degree in Biology and Health in 2002 from the University of Lille, characterizing the urease locus of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Yersinia pestis. In 2002, he joined Rocky Mountain Laboratories (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) in Montana USA as a postdoctoral fellow, where he developed and used animal models to study the physiopathology and the molecular mechanisms of flea-borne plague. In 2006, he moved back to France to work on plague as junior Inserm researcher in the Inserm U801 team located at the Institut Pasteur de Lille. In 2014, he advanced in a senior Inserm researcher Since 2010, he is the head of the Plague and Yersinia pestis team of the CIIL located at the Institut Pasteur de Lille. Starting 2020, he is the co-head of a Pasteur International Unit with the Drs Javier Pizzaro-Cerda (Institut Pasteur de Paris), Minorarisoa Rajerison and Mirelle Harmalala (Institut Pasteur de Madagascar).

Plague, which is caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Yersinia pestis, is a disease that emerged relatively recently. Well known historically for the millions of deaths it has caused, this disease has profoundly changed our societies politically, economically and culturally. Today, this fatal disease remains an international public concern heightened by the presence of Y. pestis strains resistant to antibiotics, and the risk that some people may use Y. pestis as a biological weapon again. Our research program is to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms responsible for the emergence, maintenance and spread of plague. To this end, the group apply a pluridiscplinary approach to flea, rodent and flea-rodent-flea model infections. Ultimately, our work is expected to provide novel strategies for blocking the spread of the disease.

  1. Bouvenot T, Dewitte A, Bennaceur N, Pradel E, Pierre F, Bontemps-Gallo S, Sebbane F. Interplay between Yersinia pestis and its flea vector in lipoate metabolism. ISME J. 2021 Jan 21.
  2. Sebbane F, Uversky VN, Anisimov AP. Yersinia pestis Plasminogen Activator. Biomolecules. 2020 Nov 14;10(11):1554. 
  3. Dewitte A, Bouvenot T, Pierre F, Ricard I, Pradel E, Barois N, Hujeux A, Bontemps-Gallo S, Sebbane F. A refined model of how Yersinia pestis produces a transmissible infection in its flea vector. PLoS Pathog. 2020 Apr 15;16(4):e1008440. 
  4. Bontemps-Gallo S, Fernandez M, Dewitte A, Raphaël E, Gherardini FC, Pradel E, Koch L, Biot F, Reboul A, Sebbane F. Nutrient depletion may trigger the Yersinia pestis OmpR-EnvZ regulatory system to promote flea-borne plague transmission. Mol Microbiol. 2019 Nov;112(5):1471-1482.
  5. Gandon S, Heitzmann L, Sebbane F. To block or not to block: The adaptive manipulation of plague transmission. Evol Lett. 2019 Mar 27;3(2):152-161.
  6. Lemaître N, Liang X, Najeeb J, Lee CJ, Titecat M, Leteurtre E, Simonet M, Toone EJ, Zhou P, Sebbane F. Curative Treatment of Severe Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections by a New Class of Antibiotics Targeting LpxC. mBio. 2017 Jul 25;8(4):e00674-17.
  7. Reboul A, Lemaître N, Titecat M, Merchez M, Deloison G, Ricard I, Pradel E, Marceau M, Sebbane F. Yersinia pestis requires the 2-component regulatory system OmpR-EnvZ to resist innate immunity during the early and late stages of plague. J Infect Dis. 2014 Nov 1;210(9):1367-75.
  8. Pradel E, Lemaître N, Merchez M, Ricard I, Reboul A, Dewitte A, Sebbane F. New insights into how Yersinia pestis adapts to its mammalian host during bubonic plague. PLoS Pathog. 2014 Mar 27;10(3):e1004029.