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Regulation system of serine protease production in Vibrio vulnificus strain NCIMB 2137, a metalloprotease-gene negative strain isolated from a diseased eel

Elgaml, Abdelaziz, Higaki, Kazutaka, Miyoshi, Shin-ichi
Aquaculture 2013 v.416-417 pp. 315-321
Vibrio vulnificus, bacteria, eel, genes, humans, metalloproteinases, microbial growth, quorum sensing, serine proteinases, shrimp, virulence
Vibrio vulnificus is a ubiquitous estuarine microorganism but causes fatal systemic infections in cultured eels or shrimps, as well as in immunocompromised humans. An extracellular metalloprotease has been reported to be a potential virulence factor of the bacterium; however, a few strains isolated from a diseased eel or shrimp were recently found to produce a serine protease termed VvsA. In the present study, we first clarified the regulatory characteristics of the VvsA production in V. vulnificus strain NCIMB 2137, a metalloprotease-gene negative strain isolated from a diseased eel. V. vulnificus coordinates expression of virulence genes in response to the bacterial cell density, which is termed quorum sensing (QS) and is mediated by the small diffusible molecule called autoinducer 2 (AI-2). When cultivated at 26°C, the vvsA expression was closely related with expression of the luxS gene encoding the synthase of the AI-2 precursor LuxS. Both VvsA and AI-2 were sufficiently secreted at early stationary phase of the bacterial growth. In contrast, when cultivated at 37°C, far less amounts of the AI-2 and VvsA were produced even at the stationary phase. Disruption of the luxS gene was found to decrease significantly the vvsA expression and VvsA production. Disruption of luxO encoding the central response regulator of the QS circuit caused an increase in the vvsA expression and VvsA production at the logarithmic growth phase. These findings indicate that VvsA production is positively regulated by the V. vulnificus LuxS-dependent QS system, which operated more effectively at 26°C than at 37°C.