Development of IglC and GroEL recombinant vaccines for francisellosis in Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus

Khalid Shahin, Felipe Pirezan, Matt Rogge, Benjamin R. LaFrentz, Roshan P. Shrestha, Mark Hildebrand, Fangjia Lu, Harm HogenEsch, Esteban Soto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Warm-water piscine francisellosis is a granulomatous bacterial disease caused by Francisella orientalis (Fo). The disease has been detected in a wide range of fish species globally, causing mortalities as high as 90% and significant economic losses. Currently there are no commercially available vaccines and few treatment options exist. In the current study, two novel recombinant vaccines were prepared using diatom-expressed IglC or bacterial-expressed GroEL proteins. The vaccine antigens were emulsified with either nanoparticles or a commercially available oil-based adjuvant. Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, fingerlings were immunized intracoelomically with the recombinant IglC or GroEL vaccines, diatoms alone or phosphate buffer saline. Approximately 840-degree days post-vaccination, fish were challenged via immersion with 106 CFU/mL of wild-type Fo. Twenty-one days post challenge (dpc), the highest relative percent survival was recorded in the IglC-Montanide group (75%), compared to 53%, 50%, 22%, 19% and 16% in the IglC-nanoparticles, GroEL-Montanide, GroEL-nanoparticles, diatoms-Montanide and diatoms-nanoparticles groups, respectively. Protection correlated with significantly higher specific antibody responses in the IglC-Montanide group. Moreover, a significantly lower bacterial load was detected in spleen samples from the IglC-Montanide survivor tilapia compared to the other experimental groups. This is the first report of recombinant vaccines against piscine francisellosis in tilapia. The Fo vaccines described in our study may facilitate development of a safe, cost-effective and highly protective vaccine against francisellosis in farmed tilapia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-349
Number of pages9
JournalFish and Shellfish Immunology
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Diatom-expressed IglC
  • Francisella orientalis
  • GroEL
  • Immune response
  • Montanide
  • Nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Aquatic Science


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