Photobacterium damselae subsp. piscicida (Phdp), the causative agent of photobacteriosis, is an important pathogen in marine aquaculture that affects many different fish species worldwide, including Solea senegalensis, an important fish species for aquaculture in the south of Europe.
Bacteria express different repertoires of proteins in response to environmental conditions and when invading a host, sense in vivo environment and adapt by changing the expression of specific proteins. In the case of pathogens, identification of genes with up-regulated expression in vivo compared to in vitro conditions might give an insight into the genes relevant to the bacterial virulence.
In the present work, in vivo induced antigen technology (IVIAT) has been used to search for Phdp genes only expressed or up-regulated in infected S. senegalensis. An expression library from Phdp was assayed against pooled sera from convalescent S. senegalensis specimens and 18 clones were positive, indicating that proteins encoded are expressed by Phdp during S. senegalensis infection and are immunogenic for this fish species. In addition, five proteins were reactive against adsorbed sera, indicating their in vivo induced character. Inosine-5′-monophosphate dehydrogenase, serine hydroxy methyltransferase and alanyl-tRNA synthethase, involved in aminoacid and nucleotide metabolism, the protein with antioxidant activity alkyl hydroperoxide reductase and a non-ribosomal peptide synthetase responsible for the synthesis of the siderophore piscibactin have been identified as antigens induced in Phdp during S. senegalensis infection. Proteins induced during in vivo growth of Phdp represent promising targets for the development of novel antimicrobial or prophylactic agents in the treatment and prevention of photobacteriosis.