Interaction of francisella asiatica with tilapia (oreochromis niloticus) innate immunity

Esteban Soto Martinez, Denise Fernandez, Ronald Thune, John P. Hawke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Members of the genus Francisella are facultative intracellular bacteria that cause important diseases in a wide variety of animals worldwide, including humans and fish. Several genes that are important for intramacrophage survival have been identified, including the iglC gene, which is found in the iglABCD operon in the Francisella sp. pathogenicity island (FPI). In the present study, we examined the interaction of wild-type Francisella asiatica and a ΔiglC mutant strain with fish serum and head kidney-derived macrophages (HKDM). Both the wild-type and the mutant strains were resistant to killing by normal and heat-inactivated sera. The wild-type F. asiatica is able to invade tilapia head kidney-derived macrophages and replicate vigorously within them, causing apoptosis and cytotoxicity in the macrophages at 24 and 36 h postinfection. The ΔiglC mutant, however, is defective for survival, replication, and the ability to cause cytotoxicity in HKDM, but the ability is restored when the mutant is complemented with the iglC gene. Uptake by the HKDM was mediated partially by complement and partially by macrophage mannose receptors, as demonstrated by in vitro assays. Light and electron microscopy analysis of the infected macrophages revealed intracellular bacteria present in a tight vacuole at 2 h postinoculation and the presence of numerous bacteria in spacious vacuoles at 12 h postinfection, with some bacteria free in the cytoplasm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2070-2078
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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