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Identification and characterization of a virulence-associated protease from a pathogenic Pseudomonas fluorescens strain

Zhang, Wei-wei, Hu, Yong-hua, Wang, Hua-lei, Sun, Li
Veterinary microbiology 2009 v.139 no.1-2 pp. 183-188
fish, farmed fish, fish diseases, bacterial infections, Pseudomonas fluorescens, strains, pathotypes, virulence, biochemical mechanisms, metalloproteinases, bacterial adhesion, calcium, binding capacity, molecular genetics, genes, bacterial proteins, mutation, cytotoxicity, aquaculture
Pseudomonas fluorescens is an aquaculture pathogen that can infect a number of fish species. The virulence mechanisms of aquatic P. fluorescens remain largely unknown. Many P. fluorescens strains are able to secrete an extracellular protease called AprX, yet no AprX-like proteins have been identified in pathogenic P. fluorescens associated with aquaculture. In this study, a gene encoding an AprX homologue was cloned from TSS, a pathogenic P. fluorescens strain isolated from diseased fish. In TSS, AprX is secreted into the extracellular milieu, and the production of AprX is controlled by growth phase and calcium. Mutation of aprX has multiple effects, which include impaired abilities in interaction with cultured host cells, adherence to host mucus, modulation of host immune response, and dissemination and survival in host tissues and blood. Purified recombinant AprX exhibits apparent proteolytic activity, which is optimal at pH 8.0 and 50°C. The protease activity of recombinant AprX is enhanced by Ca²⁺ and Zn²⁺ and reduced by Co²⁺. Cytotoxicity analyses showed that purified recombinant AprX has profound toxic effect on cultured fish cells. These results demonstrate that AprX is an extracellular metalloprotease that is involved in bacterial virulence.