Porphyromonas gulae is a gram-negative black-pigmented anaerobe which is known to be a pathogen for periodontitis in dogs. Approximately 41kDa filamentous appendages on the cell surface (FimA) encoded by the fimA gene are regarded as important factors associated with periodontitis. The fimA genotype was classified into two major types and strains in type B were shown to be more virulent than those in type A. In the present study, we characterized a strain with a novel fimA genotype and designated it as type C. The putative amino acid sequence was shown to be similar to the genotype IV fimA of Porphyromonas gingivalis, a major pathogen of human periodontitis. Analyses using an oral squamous cell carcinoma cell line derived from tongue primary lesions revealed that the type C strain inhibited proliferation and scratch closure more than genotype A and B strains. In addition, experiments using a mouse abscess model demonstrated that the type C strain could induce much higher systemic inflammation when compared with strains of the other genotypes. Furthermore, molecular analyses of oral swab specimens collected from dogs demonstrated that the detection frequencies of P. gulae and the genotype C in the periodontitis group were significantly higher than those in the periodontally healthy group. These results suggest that FimA of P. gulae is diverse with the virulence of genotype C strains the highest and that molecular identification of genotype C P. gulae could be a possible useful marker for identifying dogs at high risk of developing periodontitis.
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