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Disruption of pyruvate phosphate dikinase in Brucella ovis PA CO2-dependent and independent strains generates attenuation in the mouse model

  • Vizcaíno, Nieves1, 2
  • Pérez-Etayo, Lara3
  • Conde-Álvarez, Raquel3
  • Iriarte, Maite3
  • Moriyón, Ignacio3
  • Zúñiga-Ripa, Amaia3
  • 1 Universidad de Salamanca, Edificio Departamental, Plaza Doctores de la Reina s/n, Salamanca, 37007, Spain , Salamanca (Spain)
  • 2 Hospital Universitario de Salamanca, Paseo de San Vicente 52-182, Salamanca, 37007, Spain , Salamanca (Spain)
  • 3 Universidad de Navarra, Calle Irunlarrea 1, Pamplona, 31008, Spain , Pamplona (Spain)
Published Article
Veterinary Research
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Aug 14, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s13567-020-00824-7
Springer Nature


Brucella ovis is a non-zoonotic rough Brucella that causes genital lesions, abortions and increased perinatal mortality in sheep and is responsible for important economic losses worldwide. Research on virulence factors of B. ovis is necessary for deciphering the mechanisms that enable this facultative intracellular pathogen to establish persistent infections and for developing a species-specific vaccine, a need in areas where the cross-protecting ovine smooth B. melitensis Rev1 vaccine is banned. Although several B. ovis virulence factors have been identified, there is little information on its metabolic abilities and their role in virulence. Here, we report that deletion of pyruvate phosphate dikinase (PpdK, catalyzing the bidirectional conversion pyruvate ⇌ phosphoenolpyruvate) in B. ovis PA (virulent and CO2-dependent) impaired growth in vitro. In cell infection experiments, although showing an initial survival higher than that of the parental strain, this ppdK mutant was unable to multiply. Moreover, when inoculated at high doses in mice, it displayed an initial spleen colonization higher than that of the parental strain followed by a marked comparative decrease, an unusual pattern of attenuation in mice. A homologous mutant was also obtained in a B. ovis PA CO2-independent construct previously proposed for developing B. ovis vaccines to solve the problem that CO2-dependence represents for large scale production. This CO2-independent ppdK mutant reproduced the growth defect in vitro and the multiplication/clearance pattern in mouse spleens, and is thus an interesting vaccine candidate for the immunoprophylaxis of B. ovis ovine brucellosis.

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