Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2006

Abstract

Vibrio anguillarum is a causative agent of vibriosis in fish. Hemolytic activity has been suggested as a virulence factor by contributing to hemorrhagic septicemia and diarrhea. In order to identify and characterize the hemolysin genes and examine the role of hemolytic activity in virulence, a mini-Tn10Kan mutagenesis clone bank of V. anguillarum was screened. While no hemolysin-negative strains were observed, several mutants with two- to threefold-increased hemolytic activity were found. The region containing the insertion mutation was cloned, sequenced, and found to contain the V. anguillarum hemolysin (vah1) and two other open reading frames, coding for a putative lactonizing lipase (llpA) and a putative phospholipase (plp). The mini-Tn10Kan was inserted into plp. Site-directed mutagenesis of each gene revealed that mutations in vah1 and llpA did not affect hemolytic activity, but insertions into plp caused a two- to threefold increase in hemolysis. Double mutations in plp and either vah1 or llpA resulted in wild-type hemolytic activity. Complementation of plp restored hemolytic activity to wild-type levels. Spectrophotometric determination of hemolysin specific activity revealed that activity on a per cell basis peaked during the first 2 h of growth in LB20. Real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR used to quantitate transcription of the hemolysin genes plp and vah1 in V. anguillarum wild-type strains M93Sm and NB10 revealed that transcription of plp and vah1 peaked at 2 h of growth in LB20. Additionally, expression of vah1 measured in the plp mutant strain, JL01, during the first 2 h of growth was >8 times higher than that in M93Sm. Mutations in plp and llpA did not affect virulence of V. anguillarum. The mutation in vah1 attenuated V. anguillarum virulence in fish. These data show that several genes are responsible for hemolytic activity in V. anguillarum. At least three genes (plp, llpA, and vah1) are responsible for one hemolytic activity. The data also suggest that plp acts as a negative regulator of vah1 and llpA.

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