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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Dec;69(12):7328-35.

In vitro and in vivo studies of the Yrp1 protease from Yersinia ruckeri and its role in protective immunity against enteric red mouth disease of salmonids.

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Area de Microbiologia, Departamento de Biología Funcional, Facultad de Medicina, IUBA, Universidad de Oviedo, 33006 Oviedo, Asturias, Spain.


Yersinia ruckeri, the etiological agent of the enteric red mouth disease (ERM) of salmonids, produces Yrp1, a serralysin metalloprotease involved in pathogenesis. We describe here the hydrolytic and immunogenic properties of Yrp1. The protease was able to hydrolyze different matrix and muscle proteins as laminin, fibrinogen, gelatine, actin, and myosin but not type II and IV collagens. In addition, the Yrp1 protein, when inactivated by heat and used as an immunogen, was able to elicit a strong protection against the development of ERM. The analysis of different Y. ruckeri strains with (Azo+) or without (Azo-) Yrp1 activity showed that all of them contained the yrp1 operon. By using yrp1::lacZ operon fusions, protease production analysis, and complementation studies, it was possible to show that an Azo- strain was blocked at the transcription level. The transcriptional study of the yrp1 operon under different environmental conditions showed that it was regulated by osmolarity and temperature, without pH influence. Finally, when beta-galactosidase activity was used as a probe in vivo, the progression of the disease in the fish could be visualized, and the tropism of the bacterium and affected organs could be defined. This system opens a vast field of study not only with regard to fish disease progression but also in pathogen interactions, temporal gene expression, carrier stages, antibiotic resistance selection, etc.

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