Haemophilus ducreyi causes chancroid, a sexually transmitted cutaneous genital ulcer disease associated with increased heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus. H. ducreyi expresses a periplasmic copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (Cu,Zn SOD) that protects the bacterium from killing by exogenous superoxide in vitro. We hypothesized that the Cu,Zn SOD would protect H. ducreyi from immune cell killing, enhance survival, and affect ulcer development in vivo. In order to test this hypothesis and study the role of the Cu,Zn SOD in H. ducreyi pathogenesis, we compared a Cu,Zn SOD-deficient H. ducreyi strain to its isogenic wild-type parent with respect to survival and ulcer development in immunocompetent and immunosuppressed pigs. The Cu,Zn SOD-deficient strain was recovered from significantly fewer inoculated sites and in significantly lower numbers than the wild-type parent strain or a merodiploid (sodC+ sodC) strain after infection of immunocompetent pigs. In contrast, survival of the wild-type and Cu,Zn SOD-deficient strains was not significantly different in pigs that were rendered neutropenic by treatment with cyclophosphamide. Ulcer severity in pigs was not significantly different between sites inoculated with wild type and sites inoculated with Cu,Zn SOD-deficient H. ducreyi. Our data suggest that the periplasmic Cu,Zn SOD is an important virulence determinant in H. ducreyi, protecting the bacterium from host immune cell killing and contributing to survival and persistence in the host
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.