Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) cause colibacillosis, a disease which is responsible for significant losses in poultry. Control of colibacillosis is problematic due to the restricted availability of relevant antimicrobial agents and to the frequent failure of vaccines to protect against the diverse range of APEC serogroups causing disease in birds. Previously, we reported that the increased serum survival gene (iss) is strongly associated with APEC strains, but not with fecal commensal E. coli in birds, making iss and the outer membrane protein it encodes (Iss) candidate targets for colibacillosis control procedures. Preliminary studies in birds showed that their immunization with Iss fusion proteins protected against challenge with two of the more-commonly occurring APEC serogroups (O2 and O78). Here, the potential of an Iss-based vaccine was further examined by assessing its effectiveness against an additional and widely occurring APEC serogroup (O1) and its ability to evoke both a serum and mucosal antibody response in immunized birds. In addition, tissues of selected birds were subjected to histopathologic examination in an effort to better characterize the protective response afforded by immunization with this vaccine. Iss fusion proteins were administered intramuscularly to four groups of 2-wk-old broiler chickens. At 2 wk postimmunization, chickens were challenged with APEC strains of the O1, O2, or O78 serogroups. One week after challenge, chickens were euthanatized, necropsied, any lesions consistent with colibacillosis were scored, and tissues from these birds were taken aseptically. Sera were collected pre-immunization, postimmunization, and post-challenge, and antibody titers to Iss were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Also, air sac washings were collected to determine the mucosal antibody response to Iss by ELISA. During the observation period following challenge, 3/12 nonimmunized chickens, 1/12 chickens immunized with 10 µg of GST-Iss, and 1/12 chickens immunized with 50 µg of GST-Iss died when challenged with the O78 strain. No other deaths occurred. Immunized chickens produced a serum and mucosal antibody response to Iss and had significantly lower lesion scores than nonimmunized chickens following challenge, regardless of the challenge strain. This study expands on our previous report of the value of Iss as an immunoprotective antigen and demonstrates that immunization with Iss can provide significant protection of chickens against challenge with three different E. coli strains.
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Vol. 56 • No. 1