Two different representative recombinant clones encoding Aeromonas hydrophila lipases were found upon screening on tributyrin (phospholipase A1) and egg yolk agar (lecithinase-phospholipase C) plates of a cosmid-based genomic library of Aeromonas hydrophila AH-3 (serogroup O34) introduced into Escherichia coli DH5α. Subcloning, nucleotide sequencing, and in vitro-coupled transcription-translation experiments showed that the phospholipase A1 (pla) and C (plc) genes code for an 83-kDa putative lipoprotein and a 65-kDa protein, respectively. Defined insertion mutants of A. hydrophila AH-3 defective in either pla or plc genes were defective in phospholipase A1 and C activities, respectively. Lecithinase (phospholipase C) was shown to be cytotoxic but nonhemolytic or poorly hemolytic. A. hydrophila AH-3 plc mutants showed a more than 10-fold increase in their 50% lethal dose on fish and mice, and complementation of the plc single gene on these mutants abolished this effect, suggesting that Plc protein is a virulence factor in the mesophilic Aeromonas sp. serogroup O:34 infection process
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