Lateral gene transfer of pandemic Vibrio parahaemolyticus genomic island genes
Silberger, Daniel James
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Vibrio parahaemolyticus is an emerging enteric pathogen. The O3:K6 serotype has become pandemic, and the genome has been sequenced for the RIMD2210633 strain of this serotype (20). The thermostabile direct hemolysin (tdh), thermostabile related hemolysin (trh), and two distinct Type III Secretion Systems (T3SS) have been implicated in virulence. Deletion studies have determined that the T3SS alone are sufficient to induce eukaryotic cell apoptosis. The T3SS loci are found within two separate genomic islands. Because genomic islands are known to be disseminated by Lateral Gene Transfer (LGT), we examined the distribution of the pandemic genomic island genes among clinical and environmental V. parahaemolyticus isolates and also among closely-related environmental Vibrio spp. using primers designed to amplify hemolysins and T3SS effectors previously characterized for V. parahaemolyticus strain RIMD2210633 (23). We also examined the distribution of a hypothetical bacteriocin, encoded by vpa1263, within another genomic island that is similar to the bacteriocins produced by Escherichia coli. Preliminary screens for the bacteriocin gene suggest that many clinical strains and some environmental strains contain vpa1263. PCR screens for the T3SS effector genes have shown that 22% of closely-related environmental Vibrio spp. contain at least one T3SS1 or one T3SS2 effector gene. Sequencing of housekeeping genes is ongoing to confirm these findings.