The opportunistic marine pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus becomes virulent by acquiring a plasmid that expresses a deadly toxin

Chung Te Lee, I. Tung Chen, Yi Ting Yang, Tzu Ping Ko, Yun Tzu Huang, Jiun Yan Huang, Ming Fen Huang, Shin Jen Lin, Chien Yu Chen, Shih Shuen Lin, Donald V. Lightner, Han Ching Wang, Andrew H.J. Wang, Hao Ching Wang, Lien I. Hor, Chu Fang Lo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    308 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND) is a severe, newly emergent penaeid shrimp disease caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus that has already led to tremendous losses in the cultured shrimp industry. Until now, its disease-causing mechanism has remained unclear. Here we show that an AHPND-causing strain of V. parahaemolyticus contains a 70-kbp plasmid (pVA1) with a postsegregational killing system, and that the ability to cause disease is abolished by the natural absence or experimental deletion of the plasmid-encoded homologs of the Photorhabdus insect-related (Pir) toxins PirA and PirB. We determined the crystal structure of the V. parahaemolyticus PirA and PirB (PirAvp and PirBvp) proteins and found that the overall structural topology of PirAvp/PirBvp is very similar to that of the Bacillus Cry insecticidal toxin-like proteins, despite the low sequence identity (<10%). This structural similarity suggests that the putative PirABvp heterodimer might emulate the functional domains of the Cry protein, and in particular its poreforming activity. The gene organization of pVA1 further suggested that pirABvp may be lost or acquired by horizontal gene transfer via transposition or homologous recombination.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)10798-10803
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Volume112
    Issue number34
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Aug 25 2015

    Keywords

    • AHPND
    • Pir toxin
    • Shrimp
    • Vibrio parahaemolyticus
    • Virulence plasmid

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General

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