The Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae sequencing project is a collaboration between Drs. David Dyer, Ph.D., and Allison Gillaspy, Ph.D., of the Laboratory for Genomics and Bioinformatics, and Dr. Bradley Fenwick, D.V.M., Ph.D., of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. These studies are supported by USDA/CSREES grant #2001-02213.
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Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (Ap) was first identified as a causative agent of swine pleuropneumonia in 1963 (1). The organism recently has been shown in one study to be the most common cause of primary bacterial pneumonia in swine (20% of cases); of these, 30% were uncomplicated by other pathogens (2). In another study, 41% of outbreaks were associated with Ap infection (3). The pattern of clinical disease seen in these infections ranges from nearly undetectable subclinical disease to acute bronchopneumonia with rapid focal vascular necrosis, localized thrombosis, edema, ischemic necrosis and fibrinous pleuritis (4). These latter infections can be fulminant and rapidly fatal. Disease in herds can be ameliorated to some extent by husbandry practices. For instance, since Ap may colonize the neonatal pig's respiratory tract while nursing an infected sow, early weaning prior to colonization can prevent sow-to-piglet transmission (1). However, vaccines have been less than satisfactory in controlling the infection, with its attendant adverse affects on weight gain and feed conversion (5,6). This is in part due to the fact that the organism has 12 major immunological serotypes and several serotypic variants, revealing a significant antigenic heterogeneity that complicates vaccine development. In the US, serotypes 1, 5 and 7 predominate (1). Of these, serotype 1 strains appear to be the most virulent, while serotype 7 strains are of lowest virulence. In this project, we will completely sequence the genome of Ap serotype 1 strain 4074, the type strain for serotype 1 organisms, and widely used for studies on the virulence of this organism.
Figure 1. Histophomicrograph of the lung from a pig that died of Actinobacillus pneumoniae caused pneumonia which is characterized by necrosis, hemorrhage, and the accumulation of large number of neutrophils.
Figure 2. Immuno-gold electron photomicrograph of A. pleuropneumoniae. A. pleuropneumoniae is an encapsulated gram-negative coccobacilli that in some culture conditions can have a pleomorphic phenotype and express pili.
Figure 3. Classic lung lesions caused by Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae. Focal areas of necrotizing pneumonia isolated in the dorsal and caudal portions of the lungs is a diagnostic feature. The entire lung lobe can also be involved. In both cases, the fibrinous pleuritis is common.
Figure 4. Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae cross streaked with a feeder colony of Beta-hemolytic staphylococcus demonstrating a CAMP reaction, hemolytic activity, and dependence on NAD (V-factor) for growth.
Figure 5. Pig in severe respiratory distress associated with acute pneumonia caused by Actinobacillus pneumoniae.