Edwardsiella piscicidalacking the cyclic AMP receptor protein (Crp) is avirulent and immunogenic in fish

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Edwardsiella piscicida is a Gram-negative pathogen that generally causes lethal septicemia in marine and freshwater fish. We generated a E. piscicida CK216 Δcrp mutant to investigate various biological roles related to this organism, including pathogenesis. Lack of Crp in CK216 was demonstrated by immunoblotting using a Crp-specific antibody. Compared to the parental strain, the mutant exhibited changes in three biochemical phenotypes, including ornithine decarboxylation, citrate utilization, and H2S production. Complementation of crp deletion in trans rescued the phenotype of the parental strain. This study proved that hemolytic activity in E. piscicida is controlled by Crp. In addition, significantly reduced motility of E. piscicida CK216 was observed, which resulted from a lack of flagella synthesis. To examine the virulence in fish, E. piscicida cells were injected into the goldfish (Carassius auratus) via intraperitoneal route. The LD50 of CK216 was 9.25 × 108 CFU, while that of the CK108 parental strain was 9.24 × 105 CFU, attenuated 1000 fold in goldfish. Fish immunized with CK216 elicited IgM responses. Moreover, 80% of goldfish immunized with 1 × 106 CFU survived after administration of a lethal dose (1 × 107 CFU) of virulent E. piscicida CK41, suggesting the potential for E. piscicida CK216 to serve as a live attenuated vaccine in aquaculture.

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