Protein expression and transcription profiles of three strains of Aeromonas salmonicida ssp. salmonicida under normal and iron-limited culture conditions

Author: Simon Menanteau-Ledouble

Aeromonas salmonicida is an important fish pathogen that produces a wide and varied array of virulence factors. Here we used iron deprivation by addition of the chelator 2’2-dipyridyl to induce the expression of several such virulence factors in three isolates of Aeromonas salmonicida (one avirulent and two virulent). By using SDS-PAGE followed by mass spectrometry, we identified proteins that appeared differentially expressed under these conditions. The differential transcription of the identified gene products were subsequently measured by reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR).
Our initial screening using SDS-PAGE identified five proteins that appeared differentially expressed in virulent and avirulent isolates or, within the same isolates, between bacteria cultivated under iron-rich or iron-deprived conditions. The transcription of the genes coding for these proteins were subsequently quantified by RT-qPCR. Results of this analysis demonstrated that the gene coding for alkyl hydroperoxide reductase (ahpC), a protein involved in oxidative stress response, was transcribed at a higher rate in the virulent strain as compared to the avirulent strain. Additionally, it was observed that addition of an iron chelator to the culture medium lead to a reduction of the transcription levels of the regulatory histone-like nucleoid structuring protein (H-NS). This was consistent in all three isolates. On the other hand, the transcription levels of the virulence array protein (VapA) and the protein ATP-synthetase F (ATPF) displayed only limited changes, despite being the dominant component of a protein fraction that displayed changes during the preliminary SDS-PAGE screening. This was true regardless of the culture conditions and of the isolates considered. Finally, transcription of the enzyme enolase was upregulated in the iron-deprived broths in all isolates.
We identified several genes differentially expressed under culture conditions known to lead to the overexpression of virulence factors. In addition, we identified alkyl hydroperoxide as being overexpressed in the virulent isolates compared to the avirulent isolates. The results from this study will contribute to enhance our understanding of the virulence of A. salmonicida and may suggest new directions for further research.
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