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J Infect Dis. 2011 Jun 15;203(12):1866-74. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir070. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

RTX toxin enhances the survival of Vibrio vulnificus during infection by protecting the organism from phagocytosis.

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Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Vibrio vulnificus is a marine bacterium causing serious septicemia and wound infection in humans. It produces an RTX toxin that can lyse a variety of cells and is important for virulence in mice. In this study, we explored the role of RTX in pathogenesis by characterizing an RTX-deficient mutant. This mutant showed an ∼2-log reduction in virulence for mice infected by various routes. Survival of the mutant at the infection site and subsequent spread into the bloodstream were impaired. In mice pretreated with cyclophosphamide to deplete the neutrophils, both the virulence and survival at the infection site of this mutant were enhanced. This mutant was further shown to be more readily cleared from the macrophage-rich mouse peritoneal cavity and phagocytosed by murine macrophages. These findings suggest that the RTX of V. vulnificus is required for bacterial survival during infection by protecting the organism from phagocytosis.

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