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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2011 Mar;316(2):160-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2010.02208.x. Epub 2011 Jan 19.

Development of an Aeromonas hydrophila  infection model using the protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila.

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Key Laboratory of Animal Disease Diagnostic and Immunology, Ministry of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China.


Aeromonas hydrophila is a motile bacterium present in numerous freshwater habitats worldwide and is frequently the cause of infections in fish and numerous terrestrial vertebrates including humans. Because A. hydrophila is also a component of the normal intestinal flora of healthy fish, virulence mechanisms are not well understood. Considering that fish models used for the examination of A. hydrophila genes associated with virulence have not been well defined, we established an infection model using the free-living, ciliate protozoa Tetrahymena thermophila. The expression of A. hydrophila virulence genes following infection of T. thermophila was assessed by reverse transcription-PCR and demonstrated that the aerolysin (aerA) and Ahe2 serine protease (ahe2) genes (not present in the avirulent A. hydrophila NJ-4 strain) in the virulent J-1 strain were upregulated 4-h postinfection. Furthermore, the presence of intact A. hydrophila J-1 within T. thermophila suggested that these bacteria could interfere with phagocytosis, resulting in the death of the infected protozoan 48-h postinfection. Conversely, A. hydrophila NJ-4-infected T. thermophila survived the infection. This study established a novel T. thermophila infection model that will provide a novel means of examining virulence mechanisms of A. hydrophila.

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