Bacterial determinants of importance in the virulence of Gallibacterium anatis in poultry.

Veterinary research

PubMedID: 26063044

Persson G, Bojesen AM. Bacterial determinants of importance in the virulence of Gallibacterium anatis in poultry. Vet Res. 2015;46(1):57.
Gallibacterium anatis, a member of the Pasteurellaceae family, constitute a part of the normal micro-flora of the upper respiratory tract and the lower genital tract in chickens. However, increasing evidence indicate that G. anatis is also associated with a wide range of pathological changes, particularly in the reproductive organs, which leads to decreased egg production, lowered animal welfare and increased mortality. As a recently defined opportunistic pathogen limited focus has been placed on the pathogenesis and putative virulence factors permitting G. anatis to cause disease. One of the most studied virulence determinants is a large RTX-like toxin (GtxA), which has been demonstrated to induce a strong leukotoxic effect on avian macrophages. A number of fimbria of different sizes and shapes has been described. Particularly fimbriae belonging to the F17-like family appears to be common in a diverse selection of G. anatis strains. Mutants lacking the FlfA fimbria were severely attenuated in experimentally infected chickens. Additional characteristics including the ability to express capsular material possibly involved in serum resistance; secretion of metalloproteases capable of degrading immunoglobulins, and hemagglutinins, which may promote biofilm formation are all factors likely linked to the virulence of G. anatis. A major advantage for the study of how G. anatis interact with its host is the ability to perform biologically relevant experimental infections where natural routes of exposure allows reproduction of lesions observed during spontaneous infections. This review summarizes the current understanding of the G. anatis pathogenesis and discusses the contribution of the established and putative virulence factors described for this bacterium to date.