Differential expression of hemolysin genes in weakly and strongly hemolytic Brachyspira hyodysenteriae strains
Jessica Joerling, Hermann Willems, Christa Ewers, Werner Herbst
BMC Veterinary Research
Swine dysentery (SD) is a diarrheal disease in fattening pigs that is caused by the strongly hemolytic species Brachyspira (B.) hyodysenteriae, B. hampsonii and B. suanatina. As weakly hemolytic Brachyspira spp. are considered less virulent or even non-pathogenic, the hemolysin is regarded as an important factor in the pathogenesis of SD. Four hemolysin genes (tlyA, tlyB, tlyC, and hlyA) and four putative hemolysin genes (hemolysin, hemolysin activation protein, hemolysin III, and hemolysin
... nel protein) have been reported, but their role in strong hemolysis is not entirely clear. Our study aimed to assess the transcriptional activity of eight (putative) hemolysin genes in a strongly hemolytic (B204) and a weakly hemolytic (G423) B. hyodysenteriae strain during non-hemolytic and hemolytic growth stages. Strongly and weakly hemolytic B. hyodysenteriae strains caused hemolysis on blood agar at different growth stages, namely during log phase (B204) and stationary/death phase (G423). During the lag, early log, late log (stationary phase in G423) and death phase (time points 1-4) strains differed in their hemolysin gene transcription patterns. At time point 1, transcription of the putative hemolysin gene was higher in B204 than in G423. At time point 2, tlyA and tlyC were upregulated in B204 during hemolysis. TlyB and hlyA were upregulated in both strains at all time points, but higher transcription rates were observed in the weakly hemolytic strain G423. The transcription activity of the hemolysin channel protein gene was quite similar in both strains, whereas the hemolysin activation protein gene was upregulated in the non-hemolytic stage of B204 at time point 4. Sequence analysis revealed deletions, insertions and single nucleotide polymorphisms in the G423 hlyA promoter, although without altering the transcription activity of this gene. Our data indicate a combined activity of TlyA and TlyC as the most probable underlying mechanism of strong hemolysis in B. hyodysenteriae. Further studies should verify if the expression of tlyA is upregulated by the putative hemolysin gene. Depending on their immunogenic potential TlyA and TlyC may serve as possible vaccine candidates, especially since vaccines for an effective control of swine dysentery are currently not available.