ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-050125-14
Large-Scale Screen Highlights the Importance of Capsule for Virulence in the Zoonotic Pathogen Streptococcus iniae
Miller, J.D., and Neely, M.N.
Date: 2005
Source: Infection and Immunity   73(2): 921-934 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Neely, Melody N.
Keywords: none
MeSH Terms:
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Capsules/metabolism*
  • Brain/microbiology
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Gene Library
  • Heart/microbiology
  • Mutation
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Streptococcus/genetics
  • Streptococcus/metabolism
  • Streptococcus/pathogenicity*
  • Virulence/physiology
  • Zebrafish/microbiology
  • Zoonoses/microbiology*
PubMed: 15664934 Full text @ Infect. Immun.
Zoonotic pathogens have the unique ability to cross the species barrier, causing disease in both humans and specific animal hosts. Streptococcus iniae is a zoonotic pathogen of both fish and humans, and the clinical presentations of S. iniae infections in fish and humans are very similar to those caused by various human-specific streptococcal pathogens. Virulence mechanisms required for infection by this pathogen of either host have yet to be determined. Using the previously reported zebrafish infectious disease model, we performed a large-scale screening to determine genes required for systemic infection. Screening 1,128 signature-tagged transposon mutants through the zebrafish model allowed identification of 41 potential mutants that were unable to survive within the host environment. Greater than 50% of the mutants that could be identified through homology searches were highly homologous to genes found in other human-specific streptococcal pathogens, while 32% were found to have no homology to any sequences found in the databases, suggesting as yet unknown gram-positive bacterial virulence factors. A large percentage of the insertions were found to be located in several putative capsule synthesis genes, an important virulence component for other systemic pathogens. Density gradient assays demonstrated that several of these putative capsule mutants have dissimilar buoyant densities, suggesting different levels of capsule synthesis. Putative capsule mutants were also less resistant to phagocytosis in whole-blood assays than wild-type S. iniae. Our initial large-scale characterization of S. iniae virulence highlights the importance of the capsule for successful infection.