Edwardsiella piscicida is the leading pathogen threatening worldwide aquaculture industries. The 2-component system (TCS) EsrA-EsrB is essential for the pathogenesis of this bacterium. However, little is known about the regulon and regulatory mechanism of EsrA-EsrB or about the factors that mediate the interaction of TCS with bacterial hosts. Here, our RNA-seq analysis indicated that EsrB strongly induces type III and type VI secretion systems (T3/T6SS) expression and that it modulates the expression of both physiology- and virulence-associated genes in E. piscicida grown in DMEM. EsrB binds directly to a highly conserved 18-bp DNA motif to regulate the expression of T3SS and other genes. EsrB/DMEM-activated genes include 3 known and 6 novel T3SS-dependent effectors. All these effector genes are highly induced by EsrB during the late stage of in vivo infection in fish. Furthermore, although in vivo colonization by the bacterium relies on EsrB and T3/T6SS expression, it does not require the expression of individual effectors other than EseJ. The mutant lacking these 9 effectors showed significant defects in in vivo colonization and virulence toward turbot, and, more importantly, a high level of protection against challenges by wild-type E. piscicida, suggesting that it may represent a promising live attenuated vaccine. Taken together, our data demonstrate that EsrB plays a global regulatory role in controlling physiologic responses and the expression of T3SS and its cognate effector genes. Our findings will facilitate further work on the mechanism of molecular pathogenesis of this bacterium during infection.
- Edwardsiella piscicida