Necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTI) progress to severe necrosis and result in fatal sepsis within a short time. is a causative agent and can spread from the initial infection site through soft tissue finally to the systemic circulation of the host. The motility and chemotaxis of this bacterium are essential for proliferation and lethality in a murine model of the infection, but their role in pathogenicity has not been characterized. In this study, we revealed the roles of motility and chemotaxis during the process of infection. We compared a nonmotile mutant and two nonchemotactic mutants with their parent strain (WT) with regard to bacterial spread using an in vivo imaging system (IVIS) and invasion by detection of bacteria from the muscle and spleen of a murine infection model. WT rapidly spread throughout the infected thigh and invaded deep muscle causing severe tissue damage. The detection rate in the systemic circulation and the lethality were high. On the other hand, the nonmotile mutant stayed at the inoculation site, and the nonchemotactic mutants spread only slowly through the soft tissue of the infected thigh. Detection in the systemic circulation, the degree of tissue damage, and the lethality of nonchemotactic mutants were significantly reduced in mice compared with WT. This study demonstrated that chemotaxis is essential for invasion from the infection site to the deep and distant tissues and the main pathogenic factor for the rapid progression leading to sepsis in NSTI.
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