DAO 51:161-167 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/dao051161

Edwardsiella ictaluri invasion of IEC-6, Henle 407, fathead minnow and channel catfish enteric epithelial cells

Ramona T. Skirpstunas*, Thomas J. Baldwin

Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164, USA
*Present address: Vet Diagnostic Laboratory, ADVS Department, Utah State University, 5700 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322, USA. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Invasion of Edwardsiella ictaluri into cultured mammalian, fish and enzymatically harvested catfish enteric epithelial cells is described. Gentamicin survival assays were used to demonstrate the ability of this catfish pathogen to invade IEC-6 (origin: rat small intestinal epithelium), Henle 407 (origin: human embryonic intestinal epithelium), fathead minnow (FHM, minnow epithelial cells) and trypsin/pepsin-harvested channel catfish enteric epithelial cells. Invasion of all cell types occurred within 2 h of contact at 26°C, in contrast to Escherichia coli DH5 α, which did not invade cells tested. Eight Edwardsiella ictaluri isolates from diseased catfish and the ATCC (American Type Culture Collection) strain were evaluated for invasion efficiency using FHM cells. All isolates were invasive, but at differing efficiencies. Invasion blocking assays using chemical blocking agents were performed on a single isolate (LA 89-9) using IEC-6 epithelial cells. Preincubation of IEC-6 cells with cytochalasin D (microfilament depolymerizer) and monodansylcadaverine (blocks receptor-mediated endocytosis) significantly reduced invasion by E. ictaluri, whereas exposure to colchicine (microtubule depolymerizer) had no effect on bacterial internalization. Results indicate that actin polymerization and receptor-mediated endocytosis are involved in uptake of E. ictaluri by IEC-6 epithelial cells. Invasion trials using freshly harvested cells from the intestine of the natural host, Ictalurus punctatus, show that invasion occurs, but at a low efficiency. This is possibly due to loss of outer membrane receptors during enzymatic cell harvest. This study provides the first documentation of the invasion of cultured mammalian and fish cells by E. ictaluri, and identifies possible mechanisms used for intracellular access. Additionally, the study describes several functional in vitro invasion models using commercially available cell lines as well as cells from the natural host (channel catfish, I. punctatus).


KEY WORDS: Edwardsiella ictaluri · Enteric septicemia of catfish · ESC · Catfish diseases


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