Effect on Human Cells of Environmental Vibrio Parahaemolyticus Strains Carrying Type III Secretion System 2

TitleEffect on Human Cells of Environmental Vibrio Parahaemolyticus Strains Carrying Type III Secretion System 2
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsCaburlotto G, Lleò MM, Hilton T, Huq A, Colwell RR, Kaper JB
JournalInfection and ImmunityInfect. Immun.Infection and ImmunityInfect. Immun.
Type of Article10.1128/IAI.00050-10
ISBN Number0019-9567, 1098-5522

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is an inhabitant of estuarine and marine environments that causes seafood-borne gastroenteritis worldwide. Recently, a type 3 secretion system (T3SS2) able to secrete and translocate virulence factors into the eukaryotic cell has been identified in a pathogenicity island (VP-PAI) located on the smaller chromosome. These virulence-related genes have previously been detected only in clinical strains. Classical virulence genes for this species (tdh, trh) are rarely detected in environmental strains, which are usually considered to lack virulence potential. However, during screening of a collection of environmental V. parahaemolyticus isolates obtained in the North Adriatic Sea in Italy, a number of marine strains carrying virulence-related genes, including genes involved in the T3SS2, were detected. In this study, we investigated the pathogenic potential of these marine V. parahaemolyticus strains by studying their adherence ability, their cytotoxicity, their effect on zonula occludin protein 1 (ZO-1) of the tight junctions, and their effect on transepithelial resistance (TER) in infected Caco-2 cells. By performing a reverse transcription-PCR, we also tested the expression of the T3SS2 genes vopT and vopB2, encoding an effector and a translocon protein, respectively. Our results indicate that, similarly to clinical strains, marine V. parahaemolyticus strains carrying vopT and vopB2 and that other genes included in the VP-PAI are capable of adhering to human cells and of causing cytoskeletal disruption and loss of membrane integrity in infected cells. On the basis of data presented here, environmental V. parahaemolyticus strains should be included in coastal water surveillance plans, as they may represent a risk for human health.