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Keywords:

  • Edwardsiella;
  • Hemolysin;
  • Iron-regulated;
  • Pathogenicity

Abstract The ability of Edwardsiella tarda to hemolyse red blood cells was investigated. Most E. tarda strains (> 80%) produced a hemolysin when assayed by either an agar overlay or contact-dependent hemolysis technique. This activity was cell-associated (CAH) and not released into the culture supernatant under routine conditions. When quantified, E. tarda strains significantly produced 30–40-fold higher levels of hemolytic activity against guinea pig, sheep, or rabbit erythrocytes than either E. hoshinae or E. ictaluri. When grown under iron restricted-conditions in the presence of ethylenediamine di(o-hydroxyphenylacetic acid), hemoglubin, hematin and hemin were found to stimulate growth in both liquid and agar bioassays. Hemolysin activity could be released from selected E. tarda strains when grown in L broth supplemented with EDDA; hemolytic activity was 3- to > 40-fold under these conditions when compared to L broth alone. Preliminary characterization of the hemolysin of strain ET-13 indicates that it is a heat-labile protein with active sulphydryl and thiol groups. These results indicate that, in addition to its invasive capabilities, E. tarda produces a hemolysin which is at least partially regulated by the relative availability of iron and may play a role in human disease.