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Keywords:

  • Streptococcus iniae;
  • fish;
  • extracellular polysaccharide;
  • cytokines;
  • proinflammation

Abstract

Streptococcus iniae is a major pathogen of fish, causing considerable economic losses in Israel, the United States and the Far East. Containment of mortalities through vaccination was recently compromised due to the emergence of novel vaccine-escape strains that are distinguished from previous strains by their ability to produce large amounts of extracellular polysaccharide (EPS) that is released to the medium. In vitro and in vivo data now indicate that the EPS is a major virulence factor, capable of triggering the proinflammatory cytokine machinery and inducing mortality of fish. Streptococcus iniae EPS might therefore be considered to be responsible for sepsis and death just as lipopolysaccharide is for Gram-negative pathogens.