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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 53:241-247 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/dao053241

Streptococcus iniae: serological differences, presence of capsule and resistance to immune serum killing

Andrew C. Barnes1,*, Fiona M. Young1, Michael T. Horne2, Anthony E. Ellis1

1Fisheries Research Services Marine Laboratory, Victoria Road, Aberdeen AB11 9DB, Scotland, UK
2Novartis Animal Vaccines Limited, Enterprise House, Springkerse Business Park, Stirling FK7 7UF, Scotland, UK

ABSTRACT: The biochemical profiles, presence of capsule, outer membrane protein profiles and serological interactions of isolates of Streptococcus iniae obtained from different geographical and fish host origins were examined. The isolates had very similar biochemical profiles using API 20 Strep but varied as to whether they were arginine dihydrolase-negative, -positive or -intermediate (AD-ve, AD+ve, AD±ve, respectively). Representatives of each AD type were compared in subsequent experiments. All types possessed a polysaccharide capsule. Sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analysis of outer membrane proteins or whole cells revealed no difference in banding patterns between isolates. All isolates were resistant to trout normal and specific immune serum and grew well in the presence of added fresh normal serum. Serological analyses of the isolates revealed antigenic differences. Trout antiserum against the AD+ve isolate did not agglutinate the AD-ve or AD±ve isolates, while antisera against the latter 2 types showed low agglutinating activity with all 3 isolates. When whole live cells of AD-ve and AD+ve isolates were dot-blotted, antiserum to the AD+ve isolate did not stain the AD-ve isolate, but antiserum to the AD-ve isolate stained both AD types. However, if the cells were pre-treated with Proteinase K (to remove surface-exposed protein antigens), the AD+ve isolate was stained only by its homologous antiserum. These results suggest that while certain protein antigens of the different AD type strains are immunologically cross-reactive, the capsular antigens appear to be AD type-specific. Furthermore, the results suggest that the cross-reactive antigens on the AD-ve isolate are effectively hidden by the strain-specific capsule, while they are partially exposed on the AD+ve isolate.

KEY WORDS: Streptococcus iniae · Serotypes · Capsule · Antiserum resistance · Arginine dihydrolase

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