Applied and environmental microbiology

Entericidin is required for a probiotic treatment (Enterobacter sp. strain C6-6) to protect trout from cold-water disease challenge.

PMID 25381243


Flavobacterium psychrophilum causes bacterial cold-water disease in multiple fish species, including salmonids. An autochthonous Enterobacter strain (C6-6) inhibits the in vitro growth of F. psychrophilum, and when ingested as a putative probiotic, it provides protection against injection challenge with F. psychrophilum in rainbow trout. In this study, low-molecular-mass (≤3 kDa) fractions from both Enterobacter C6-6 and Escherichia coli K-12 culture supernatants inhibited the growth of F. psychrophilum. The ≤3-kDa fraction from Enterobacter C6-6 was analyzed by SDS-PAGE, and subsequent tandem mass spectroscopy identified EcnB, which is a small membrane lipoprotein that is a putative pore-forming toxin. Agar plate diffusion assays demonstrated that ecnAB knockout strains of both Enterobacter C6-6 and E. coli K-12 no longer inhibited F. psychrophilum (P < 0.001), while ecnAB-complemented knockout strains recovered the inhibitory phenotype (P < 0.001). In fish experiments, the engineered strains (C6-6 ΔecnAB and C6-6 ΔecnAB) and the wild-type strain (C6-6) were added to the fish diet every day for 38 days. On day 11, the fish were challenged by injection with a virulent strain of F. psychrophilum (CSF 259-93). Fish that were fed C6-6 had significantly longer survival than fish fed the ecnAB knockout strain (P < 0.0001), while fish fed the complemented knockout strain recovered the probiotic phenotype (P = 0.61). This entericidin is responsible for the probiotic activity of Enterobacter C6-6, and it may present new opportunities for therapeutic and prophylactic treatments against similarly susceptible pathogens.

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