Pseudomonas plecoglossicida is a Gram-negative pathogenic bacterium that causes visceral white spot disease in several marine fish species, resulting in high mortality and financial loss. Based on previous RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) results, rpoD gene expression is significantly up-regulated in P. plecoglossicida during infection, indicating that rpoD may contribute to bacterial pathogenicity. To investigate the role of this gene, five specific short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) were designed and synthesized based on the rpoD gene sequence, with all five mutants exhibiting a significant decrease in rpoD gene expression in P. plecoglossicida. The mutant with the highest silencing efficiency (89.2%) was chosen for further study. Compared with the wild-type (WT) P. plecoglossicida strain NZBD9, silencing rpoD in the rpoD-RNA interference (RNAi) strain resulted in a significant decrease in growth, motility, chemotaxis, adhesion, and biofilm formation in P. plecoglossicida. Silencing of rpoD also resulted in a 25% increase in the survival rate, a one-day delay in the onset of death, and a significant decrease in the number of white spots on the spleen surface of infected orange-spotted groupers (Epinephelus coioides). In addition, rpoD expression and pathogen load were significantly lower in the spleens of E. coioides infected with the rpoD-RNAi strain than with the WT strain of P. plecoglossicida. We performed RNA-seq of E. coioides spleens infected with different P. plecoglossicida strains. Results showed that rpoD silencing in P. plecoglossicida led to a significant change in the infected spleen transcriptomes. In addition, comparative transcriptome analysis showed that silencing rpoD caused significant changes in complement and coagulation cascades and the IL-17 signaling pathway. Thus, this study revealed the effects of the rpoD gene on P. plecoglossicida pathogenicity and identified the main pathway involved in the immune response of E. coioides.
Keywords: Epinephelus coioides; Immune response; Pathogenicity; Pseudomonas plecoglossicida; rpoD.
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