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    Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) infections are a very important problem in the poultry industry. PhoP-PhoQ is a two-component system that regulates virulence genes in APEC. In this study, we constructed strains that lacked the PhoP or PhoQ genes to assess regulation of APEC pathogenicity by the PhoP-PhoQ two-component system. The PhoP mutant strain AE18, PhoQ mutant strain AE19, and PhoP/PhoQ mutant strain AE20 were constructed by the Red homologous recombination method. Swim plates were used to evaluate the motility of the APEC strains, viable bacteria counting was used to assess adhesion and invasion of chick embryo fibroblasts, and Real-Time PCR was used to measure mRNA expression of virulence genes. We first confirmed that AE18, AE19, and AE20 were successfully constructed from the wild-type AE17 strain. AE18, AE19, and AE20 showed significant decreases in motility of 70.97%, 83.87%, and 37.1%, respectively, in comparison with AE17. Moreover, in comparison with AE17, AE18, AE19, and AE20 showed significant decreases of 63.11%, 65.42%, and 30.26%, respectively, in CEF cell adhesion, and significant decreases of 59.83%, 57.82%, and 37.90%, respectively, in CEF cell invasion. In comparison with AE17, transcript levels of sodA, polA, and iss were significantly decreased in AE18, while transcript levels of fimC and iss were significantly decreased in AE19. Our results demonstrate that deletion of PhoP or PhoQ inhibits invasion and adhesion of APEC to CEF cells and significantly reduces APEC virulence by regulating transcription of virulence genes.


    Jian Tu, Boyan Huang, Yu Zhang, Yuxi Zhang, Ting Xue, Shaocan Li, Kezong Qi. Modulation of virulence genes by the two-component system PhoP-PhoQ in avian pathogenic Escherichia coli. Polish journal of veterinary sciences. 2016;19(1):31-40

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    PMID: 27096785

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