Development and evaluation of the Galleria mellonella (greater wax moth) infection model to study Brucella host-pathogen interaction
Galleria mellonella
Innate immunity
Virulence model
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Elizalde-Bielsa, A. (Aitor); Aragón-Aranda, B. (Beatriz); Loperena-Barber, M. (Maite); et al. "Development and evaluation of the Galleria mellonella (greater wax moth) infection model to study Brucella host-pathogen interaction". Microbial Pathogenesis. 174, 2023, 105930
Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease caused by Gram-negative bacteria of the genus Brucella. These pathogens cause long-lasting infections, a process in which Brucella modifications in the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and envelope lipids reduce pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) recognition, thus hampering innate immunity activation. In vivo models are essential to investigate bacterial virulence, mice being the most used model. However, ethical and practical considerations impede their use in high-throughput screening studies. Although lacking the complexity of the mammalian immune system, insects share key-aspects of innate immunity with mammals, and Galleria mellonella has been used increasingly as a model. G. mellonella larvae have been shown useful in virulence analyses, including Gram-negative pathogens like Klebsiella pneumoniae and Legionella pneumophila. To assess its potential to study Brucella virulence, we first evaluated larva survival upon infection with representative Brucella species (i.e.B. abortus 2308W, B. microti CCM4915 and B. suis biovar 2) and mutants in the VirB type-IV secretion system (T4SS) or in the LPS-O-polysaccharide (O-PS). As compared to K.pneumoniae, the Brucella spp. tested induced a delayed and less severe mortality profile consistent with an escape of innate immunity detection. Brucella replication within larvae was affected by the lack of O-PS, which is reminiscent of their attenuation in natural hosts. On the contrary, replication was not affected by T4SS dysfunction and the mutant induced only slightly less mortality (not statistically significant) than its parental strain. We also evaluated G. mellonella to efficiently recognise Brucella and their LPS by quantification of the pro-phenoloxidase system and melanisation activation, using Pseudomonas LPS as a positive control. Among the brucellae, only B. microti LPS triggered an early-melanisation response consistent with the slightly increased endotoxicity of this species in mice. Therefore, G. mellonella represents a tool to screen for potential Brucella factors modulating innate immunity, but its usefulness to investigate other mechanisms relevant in Brucella intracellular life is limited.

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