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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Jul;69(7):4200-4.

Vibrio cholerae hemagglutinin/protease degrades chironomid egg masses.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences and Science Education, University of Haifa, Oranim, Tivon 36006, Israel.


Cholera is a severe diarrheal disease caused by specific serogroups of Vibrio cholerae that are pathogenic to humans. The disease does not persist in a chronic state in humans or animals. The pathogen is naturally present as a free-living organism in the environment. Recently, it was suggested that egg masses of the nonbiting midge Chironomus sp. (Diptera) harbor and serve as a nutritive source for V. cholerae, thereby providing a natural reservoir for the organism. Here we report that V. cholerae O9, O1, and O139 supernatants lysed the gelatinous matrix of the chironomid egg mass and inhibited eggs from hatching. The extracellular factor responsible for the degradation of chironomid egg masses (egg mass degrading factor) was purified from V. cholerae O9 and O139 and was identified as the major secreted hemagglutinin/protease (HA/P) of V. cholerae. The substrate in the egg mass was characterized as a glycoprotein. These findings show that HA/P plays an important role in the interaction of V. cholerae and chironomid egg masses.

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