Molecular and Physical Factors That Influence Attachment of Vibrio vulnificus to Chitin.


The human pathogen Vibrio vulnificus is the leading cause of seafood-related deaths in the United States. Strains are genotyped on the basis of alleles that correlate with isolation source, with clinical (C)-genotype strains being more often implicated in disease and environmental (E)-genotype strains being more frequently isolated from oysters and estuarine waters. Previously, we have shown that the ecologically distinct C- and E-genotype strains of V. vulnificus display different degrees of chitin attachment, with C-genotype strains exhibiting reduced attachment relative to their E-genotype strain counterparts. We identified type IV pili to be part of the molecular basis for this observed genotypic variance, as E-genotype strains exhibit higher levels of expression of these genes than C-genotype strains. Here, we used a C-genotype quorum-sensing (QS) mutant to demonstrate that quorum sensing is a negative regulator of type IV pilus expression, which results in decreased chitin attachment. Furthermore, calcium depletion reduced E-genotype strain attachment to chitin, which suggests that calcium is necessary for proper functioning of the type IV pili in E-genotype strains. We also found that starvation or dormancy can alter the efficiency of chitin attachment, which has significant implications for the environmental persistence of V. vulnificus. With the increasing incidence of wound infections caused by V. vulnificus, we investigated a subset of E-genotype strains isolated from human wound infections and discovered that they attached to chitin in a manner more similar to that of C-genotype strains. This study enhances our understanding of the molecular and physical factors that mediate chitin attachment in V. vulnificus, providing insight into the mechanisms that facilitate the persistence of this pathogen in its native environment.

DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00753-15

Cite this paper

@article{Williams2015MolecularAP, title={Molecular and Physical Factors That Influence Attachment of Vibrio vulnificus to Chitin.}, author={Tiffany C. Williams and Mesrop Ayrapetyan and J. Douglas Oliver}, journal={Applied and environmental microbiology}, year={2015}, volume={81 18}, pages={6158-65} }