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Cell & Molecular Biology



Vibrio anguillarum is an extracellular bacterial pathogen that is a causative agent of vibriosis in finfish and crustaceans with mortality rates ranging from 30% to 100%. Mutations in central metabolism (glycolysis and the TCA cycle) of intracellular pathogens often result in attenuated virulence due to depletion of required metabolic intermediates; however, it was not known whether mutations in central metabolism would affect virulence in an extracellular pathogen such as V. anguillarum.


Seven central metabolism mutants were created and characterized with regard to growth in minimal and complex media, expression of virulence genes, and virulence in juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Only the isocitrate dehydrogenase (icd) mutant was attenuated in virulence against rainbow trout challenged by either intraperitoneal injection or immersion. Further, the icd mutant was shown to be immunoprotective against wild type V. anguillarum infection. There was no significant decrease in the expression of the three hemolysin genes detected by qRT-PCR. Additionally, only the icd mutant exhibited a significantly decreased growth yield in complex media. Growth yield was directly related to the abundance of glutamate. A strain with a restored wild type icd gene was created and shown to restore growth to a wild type cell density in complex media and pathogenicity in rainbow trout.


The data strongly suggest that a decreased growth yield, resulting from the inability to synthesize α-ketoglutarate, caused the attenuation despite normal levels of expression of virulence genes. Therefore, the ability of an extracellular pathogen to cause disease is dependent upon the availability of host-supplied nutrients for growth. Additionally, a live vaccine strain could be created from an icd deletion strain.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.