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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2013 Feb;20(2):287-94. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00616-12. Epub 2012 Dec 26.

Adhesion protein ApfA of Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae is required for pathogenesis and is a potential target for vaccine development.

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Division of Animal Infectious Diseases in the State Key Laboratory of Agricultural Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China.


Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae is the etiologic agent of porcine pleuropneumonia, which causes serious economic losses in the pig farming industry worldwide. Due to a lack of knowledge of its virulence factors and a lack of effective vaccines able to confer cross-serotype protection, it is difficult to place this disease under control. By analyzing its genome sequences, we found that type IV fimbrial subunit protein ApfA is highly conserved among different serotypes of A. pleuropneumoniae. Our study shows that ApfA is an adhesin since its expression was greatly upregulated (135-fold) upon contact with host cells, while its deletion mutant attenuated its capability of adhesion. The inactivation of apfA dramatically reduced the ability of A. pleuropneumoniae to colonize mouse lung, suggesting that apfA is a virulence factor. Purified recombinant ApfA elicited an elevated humoral immune response and conferred robust protection against challenges with A. pleuropneumoniae serovar 1 strain 4074 and serovar 7 strain WF83 in mice. Importantly, the anti-ApfA serum conferred significant protection against both serovar 1 and serovar 7 in mice. These studies indicate that ApfA promotes virulence through attachment to host cells, and its immunogenicity renders it a promising novel subunit vaccine candidate against infection with A. pleuropneumoniae.

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