Deciphering the molecular basis for attenuation of Flavobacterium columnare strain Fc1723 used as modified live vaccine against columnaris disease

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Original languageEnglish
Article number1370
Journal / PublicationVaccines
Issue number11
Online published22 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021



Vaccines are widely employed in aquaculture to prevent bacterial infections, but their use by the U.S. catfish industry is very limited. One of the main diseases affecting catfish aquaculture is columnaris disease, caused by the bacterial pathogen Flavobacterium columnare. In 2011, a modified-live vaccine against columnaris disease was developed by selecting mutants that were resistant to rifampin. The previous study has suggested that this vaccine is stable, safe, and effective, but the mechanisms that resulted in attenuation remained uncharacterized. To understand the molecular basis for attenuation, a comparative genomic analysis was conducted to identify specific point mutations. The PacBio RS long-read sequencing platform was used to obtain draft genomes of the mutant attenuated strain (Fc1723) and the parent virulent strain (FcB27). Sequence-based genome comparison identified 16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) unique to the mutant. Genes that contained mutations were involved in rifampin resistance, gliding motility, DNA transcription, toxin secretion, and extracellular protease synthesis. The results also found that the vaccine strain formed biofilm at a significantly lower rate than the parent strain. These observations suggested that the rifampin-resistant phenotype and the associated attenuation of the vaccine strain result from the altered activity of RNA polymerase (RpoB) and possible disrupted protein secretion systems.

Research Area(s)

  • Attenuated vaccine, Catfish, Columnaris disease, Flavobacterium columnare, Rifampin

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