Diversity in gene arrangement in a DNA region lacking aerA in clinical and environmental Aeromonas hydrophila isolates
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Aquatic pathogen Aeromonas hydrophila produces an array of virulence factors, many of which are excreted proteins that causes infectious disease in fish, reptiles, and humans. Aerolysin, a haemolytic toxin, is the most well-known of the A. hydrophila virulence factors and is encoded by aerA. Although used as a virulence gene marker in several studies, recent whole-genome sequencing data suggest there may be some variation in aerolysin genes, as well as in the genetic environment of these genes, among A. hydrophila strains. Here, we used PCR-based assays to examine gene arrangement in the traditional aerA region of 42 aerA-minus clinical and environmental A. hydrophila isolates. PCR primers were designed based on known genes from within the target regions of reference strains carrying non-aerA aerolysin genes. Analyses revealed four different gene arrangement patterns among the isolates, indicating considerable genetic diversity in the target region. While 19 of the 21 environmental isolates showed the same gene pattern, all four patterns were represented among the clinical isolates, implying that the gene pattern is highly conserved in the target region among environmental isolates. Further analysis of the gene regions showed that the predominant pattern among environmental isolates, which did not contain an aerolysin gene, appeared to be the progenitor of the other three patterns, which likely arose as a result of gene acquisition, deletion, and rearrangement events during the evolution of A. hydrophila, and may be linked to the acquisition of aerolysin genes. These findings shed light on the evolution of virulence in A. hydrophila.
KeywordsAerolysin gene Aeromonas hydrophila Clinical isolates Environmental isolates Genetic diversity
We thank Tamsin Sheen, PhD, from Edanz Group (www.edanzediting.com/ac) for editing a draft of this manuscript and helping to draft the abstract.
NW designed the study, performed the research, analysed the data and wrote the paper. KM analysed the data.
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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