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Diversity of virulence phenotypes among type III secretion negative Pseudomonas aeruginosa clinical isolates.

  • Author(s): Toska, Jonida;
  • Sun, Yan;
  • Carbonell, Dalina Alvarez;
  • Foster, Altreisha N-S;
  • Jacobs, Michael R;
  • Pearlman, Eric;
  • Rietsch, Arne
  • et al.
Abstract

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a frequent cause of acute infections. The primary virulence factor that has been linked to clinical disease is the type III secretion system, a molecular syringe that delivers effector proteins directly into host cells. Despite the importance of type III secretion in dictating clinical outcomes and promoting disease in animal models of infections, clinical isolates often do not express the type III secretion system in vitro. Here we screened 81 clinical P. aeruginosa isolates for secretion of type III secretion system substrates by western blot. Non-expressing strains were also subjected to a functional test assaying the ability to intoxicate epithelial cells in vitro, and to survive and cause disease in a murine model of corneal infection. 26 of 81 clinical isolates were found to be type III secretion negative by western blot. 17 of these 26 non-expressing strains were tested for their ability to cause epithelial cell rounding. Of these, three isolates caused epithelial cell rounding in a type III secretion system dependent manner, and one strain was cytotoxic in a T3SS-independent manner. Five T3SS-negative isolates were also tested for their ability to cause disease in a murine model of corneal infection. Of these isolates, two strains caused severe corneal disease in a T3SS-independent manner. Interestingly, one of these strains caused significant disease (inflammation) despite being cleared. Our data therefore show that P. aeruginosa clinical isolates can cause disease in a T3SS-independent manner, demonstrating the existence of novel modifiers of clinical disease.

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