Shigella Serotypes Associated with Carriage in Humans Establish Persistent Infection in Zebrafish

Vincenzo Torraca*, Dominik Brokatzky, Sydney L. Miles, Charlotte E. Chong, P. Malaka De Silva, Stephen Baker, Claire Jenkins, Kathryn E. Holt, Kate S. Baker, Serge Mostowy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Shigella represents a paraphyletic group of enteroinvasive Escherichia coli. More than 40 Shigella serotypes have been reported. However, most cases within the men who have sex with men (MSM) community are attributed to 3 serotypes: Shigella sonnei unique serotype and Shigella flexneri 2a and 3a serotypes. Using the zebrafish model, we demonstrate that Shigella can establish persistent infection in vivo. Bacteria are not cleared by the immune system and become antibiotic tolerant. Establishment of persistent infection depends on the O-Antigen, a key constituent of the bacterial surface and a serotype determinant. Representative isolates associated with MSM transmission persist in zebrafish, while representative isolates of a serotype not associated with MSM transmission do not. Isolates of a Shigella serotype establishing persistent infections elicited significantly less macrophage death in vivo than isolates of a serotype unable to persist. We conclude that zebrafish are a valuable platform to illuminate factors underlying establishment of Shigella persistent infection in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1108-1118
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America.


  • O-Antigen
  • Shigella flexneri
  • Shigella sonnei
  • persistent infection
  • zebrafish


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