Role of a cytotoxic enterotoxin in aeromonas-mediated infections: Development of transposon and isogenic mutants

Xin J. Xu, M. R. Ferguson, V. L. Popov, Clifford Houston, Johnny Peterson, A. K. Chopra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Transposon and marker exchange mutagenesis were used to evaluate the role of Aeromonas cytotoxic enterotoxin (Act) in the pathogenesis of diarrheal diseases and deep wound infections. The transposon mutants were generated by random insertion of Tn5-751 in the chromosomal DNA of a diarrheal isolate SSU of Aeromonas hydrophila. Some of the transposon mutants had dramatically reduced hemolytic and cytotoxic activities, and such mutants exhibited reduced virulence in mice compared to wild-type Aeromonas when injected intraperitoneally (i.p.). Southern blot data indicated that transposition in these mutants did not occur within the cytotoxic enterotoxin gene (act). The transcription of the act gene was affected drastically in the transposon mutants, as revealed by Northern blot analysis. The altered virulence of these transposon mutants was confirmed by developing isogenic mutants of the wild-type Aeromonas by using a suicide vector. In these mutants, the truncated act gene was integrated in place of a functionally active act gene. The culture filtrates from isogenic mutants were devoid of hemolytic, cytotoxic, and enterotoxic activities associated with Act. These filtrates caused no damage to mouse small intestinal epithelium, as determined by electron microscopy, whereas culture filtrates from wild-type Aeromonas caused complete destruction of the microvilli. The 50% lethal dose of these mutants in mice was 1.0 x 108 when injected i.p., compared to 3.0 x 105 for the wild-type Aeromonas. Reintegration of the native act gene in place of the truncated toxin gene in isogenic mutants resulted in complete restoration of Act's biological activity and virulence in mice. The animals injected with a sublethal dose of wild-type Aeromonas or the revertant, but not the isogenic mutant, had circulating toxinspecific neutralizing antibodies. Taken together, these studies clearly established a role for Act in the pathogenesis of Aeromonas-mediated infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3501-3509
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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