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J Bacteriol. 1999 Jul;181(14):4308-17.

The chemotactic response of Vibrio anguillarum to fish intestinal mucus is mediated by a combination of multiple mucus components.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Umeå University, S-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.


Chemotactic motility has previously been shown to be essential for the virulence of Vibrio anguillarum in waterborne infections of fish. To investigate the mechanisms by which chemotaxis may function during infection, mucus was isolated from the intestinal and skin epithelial surfaces of rainbow trout. Chemotaxis assays revealed that V. anguillarum swims towards both types of mucus, with a higher chemotactic response being observed for intestinal mucus. Work was performed to examine the basis, in terms of mucus composition, of this chemotactic response. Intestinal mucus was analyzed by using chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques, and the compounds identified were tested in a chemotaxis assay to determine the attractants present. A number of mucus-associated components, in particular, amino acids and carbohydrates, acted as chemoattractants for V. anguillarum. Importantly, only upon combination of these attractants into a single mixture were levels of chemotactic activity similar to those of intestinal mucus generated. A comparative analysis of skin mucus revealed its free amino acid and carbohydrate content to be considerably lower than that of the more chemotactically active intestinal mucus. To study whether host specificity exists in relation to vibrio chemotaxis towards mucus, comparisons with a human Vibrio pathogen were made. A cheR mutant of a Vibrio cholerae El Tor strain was constructed, and it was found that V. cholerae and V. anguillarum exhibit a chemotactic response to mucus from several animal sources in addition to that from the human jejunum and fish epithelium, respectively.

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