The Burkholderia pseudomallei Δasd mutant exhibits attenuated intracellular infectivity and imparts protection against acute inhalation melioidosis in mice.
Burkholderia pseudomallei, the cause of serious and life-threatening diseases in humans, is of national biodefense concern because of its potential use as a bioterrorism agent. This microbe is listed as a select agent by the CDC; therefore, development of vaccines is of significant importance. Here, we further investigated the growth characteristics of a recently created B. pseudomallei 1026b Δasd mutant in vitro, in a cell model, and in an animal model of infection. The mutant was typified by an inability to grow in the absence of exogenous diaminopimelate (DAP); upon single-copy complementation with a wild-type copy of the asd gene, growth was restored to wild-type levels. Further characterization of the B. pseudomallei Δasd mutant revealed a marked decrease in RAW264.7 murine macrophage cytotoxicity compared to the wild type and the complemented Δasd mutant. RAW264.7 cells infected by the Δasd mutant did not exhibit signs of cytopathology or multinucleated giant cell (MNGC) formation, which were observed in wild-type B. pseudomallei cell infections. The Δasd mutant was found to be avirulent in BALB/c mice, and mice vaccinated with the mutant were protected against acute inhalation melioidosis. Thus, the B. pseudomallei Δasd mutant may be a promising live attenuated vaccine strain and a biosafe strain for consideration of exclusion from the select agent list.