Drug Discov Ther. 2007;1(2):89-93.

A silkworm model of pathogenic bacterial infection.

Kaito C, Sekimizu K


Silkworms are invertebrate animals that are killed by bacteria pathogenic against humans, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Vibrio cholerae. Injection into the hemolymph of antibiotics that are clinically used for human patients abolishes the killing effects. There are several advantages to using silkworms as an infection model, such as low cost, the absence of ethical problems that are associated with the use of mammals, and a body size large enough to handle while injecting sample solution into the hemolymph. We screened S. aureus mutants with attenuated virulence against silkworms and found three novel virulence regulatory genes, cvfA, cvfB, and cvfC. These genes contribute to virulence against mice and are required for exotoxin production. The cvfA gene is required for expression of the agr locus, which regulates most exotoxin genes, and a novel DNA binding protein SarZ. Silkworms are susceptible to S. aureus beta toxin, P. aeruginosa exotoxin A, and diphtheria toxin. Therefore, silkworms are a promising infection model animal for the identification and evaluation of virulenceassociated genes.

KEYWORDS: Silkworms, virulence, Staphylococcus aureus, exotoxin

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