Acute hepatopancreas necrosis disease is a recently emerged shrimp disease that is caused by virulent strains of Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Although AHPND poses a serious threat to the shrimp industry, particularly in Asia, its underlying pathogenic mechanisms are not well characterized. Since a previous transcriptomic study showed upregulation of the apical sodium bile acid transporter (LvASBT), our objective here was to explore the role of bile acids and bile acid transporters in AHPND infection. We confirmed that mRNA expression of LvASBT was upregulated in the stomach of AHPND-infected shrimps. Bile acid concentrations were also higher in the stomach of AHPND-infected shrimp and correlated with high expression of pVA plasmid and Pir toxins. In vitro assays showed that bile acids enhanced biofilm formation and increased the release of PirABvp toxins in AHPND-causing V. parahaemolyticus, while in vivo inhibition of LvASBT by GSK2330672 reduced the copy numbers of pVA plasmid, Pir toxin and reduced the amounts of bile acids in AHPND-infected shrimp stomach. Transcriptomics data for AHPND-causing V. parahaemolyticus treated with bile acids showed upregulation of various genes involved in membrane transport, RND efflux pumps and a bacterial secretion system. Taken together, our results show that AHPND-causing V. parahaemolyticus virulence is positively regulated by bile acids and that LvASBT and bile acids in shrimp stomach have important roles in AHPND pathogenesis.
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