Use of a mini-transposon to study chondroitinase activity associated with Edwardsiella ictaluri

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Edwardsiella ictaluri, the etiological agent of enteric septicemia of catfish (ESC), is the leading cause of bacterial disease in commercially raised channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus. Little work has been conducted at a genotypic level to determine potential virulence characteristics, but the production of chondroitin sulfatase is a suspected virulence factor. Using transpositional mutagenesis, we created stable E. ictaluri mutants that are deficient in chondroitinase activity. Channel catfish were challenged by injection with E. ictaluri transposon mutant MILS. None of the catfish challenged with the mutant died or showed signs of ESC. These fish were held for 2 weeks and then challenged by injection with the known virulent parent strain of E. ictaluri. The challenged naive control fish showed clinical signs of and a mortality rate consistent with ESC, whereas catfish that had been injected with MI15 prior to challenge with the parent strain were resistant to disease. This work represents a preliminary study to suggest a possible role of chondroitin sulfatase activity in the virulence of E. ictaluri.

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Journal of Aquatic Animal Health

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