Streptococcus suis (S. suis) is an emerging zoonotic pathogen that can cause meningitis, arthritis, pneumonia, and sepsis. It poses a serious threat to the swine industry and public health worldwide. Ornithine carbamoyltransferase (OTC) is involved in the arginine deiminase system. OTC, which is a widely distributed enzyme in microorganisms, mammals, and higher plants, catalyzes the conversion of ornithine to citrulline. The present study showed that the otc gene plays an important role in the pathogenesis of S. suis infections. The ability of an otc-deficient mutant (Δotc) to form a biofilm was significantly reduced compared to the wild-type (WT) strain, as determined by crystal violet staining. Confocal laser scanning microscopy and scanning electron microscopy observations showed that the weakening of biofilm formation by the Δotc strain is related to a decrease in the extracellular matrix. In addition, compared to the WT strain, the Δotc strain had a reduced capacity to adhere to human laryngeal epidermoid carcinoma (HEp-2) cells compared to the WT strain. A real-time PCR analysis showed that the expression of adhesion-related genes by the Δotc strain was also lower than that of the WT strain. The virulence of the Δotc strain was significantly lower than that of the WT strain in a murine infection model. In addition, a histological analysis showed that the pathogenicity of the Δotc strain was lower than that of the WT strain, causing only slight inflammatory lesions in lung, liver, spleen, and kidney tissues. No significant differences were observed between the complemented mutant (CΔotc) and WT strains with respect to biofilm formation, adhesion, gene expression, and virulence. The present study provided evidence that the otc gene plays a pivotal role in the regulation of S. suis adhesion and biofilm formation. It also suggested that the otc gene is indirectly involved in the pathogenesis of S. suis serotype 2 infections.
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