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Flavobacterium psychrophilum causes bacterial cold-water disease in wild and aquaculture-reared fish and is a major problem for salmonid aquaculture. The mechanisms responsible for cold-water disease are not known. It was recently demonstrated that the related fish pathogen, Flavobacterium columnare, requires a functional type IX protein secretion system (T9SS) to cause disease. T9SSs secrete cell surface adhesins, gliding motility proteins, peptidases, and other enzymes, any of which may be virulence factors. The F. psychrophilum genome has genes predicted to encode components of a T9SS. Here, we used a SacB-mediated gene deletion technique recently adapted for use in the Bacteroidetes to delete a core F. psychrophilum T9SS gene, gldN The ΔgldN mutant cells were deficient for secretion of many proteins in comparison to wild-type cells. Complementation of the mutant with wild-type gldN on a plasmid restored secretion. Compared to wild-type and complemented strains, the ΔgldN mutant was deficient in adhesion, gliding motility, and extracellular proteolytic and hemolytic activities. The ΔgldN mutant exhibited reduced virulence in rainbow trout and complementation restored virulence, suggesting that the T9SS plays an important role in the disease.IMPORTANCE Bacterial cold-water disease, caused by F. psychrophilum, is a major problem for salmonid aquaculture. Little is known regarding the virulence factors involved in this disease, and control measures are inadequate. A targeted gene deletion method was adapted to F. psychrophilum and used to demonstrate the importance of the T9SS in virulence. Proteins secreted by this system are likely virulence factors and targets for the development of control measures. Copyright © 2020 American Society for Microbiology.


Paul Barbier, Tatiana Rochat, Haitham H Mohammed, Gregory D Wiens, Jean-François Bernardet, David Halpern, Eric Duchaud, Mark J McBride. The Type IX Secretion System Is Required for Virulence of the Fish Pathogen Flavobacterium psychrophilum. Applied and environmental microbiology. 2020 Aug 03;86(16)

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PMID: 32532872

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