A cell culture system, employing the fish cell line (EPC), was developed to study the synthesis of intracellular antigen and the expression of putative virulence factors by EPC cultures infected with could be maintained for 7 weeks, during which the pathogen multiplied intracellularly. Immunohistochemical examination of infected cultures revealed the production of the p57 antigen, haemolysin and cytolysin. The intracellular nature of the infection was confirmed by transmission electron microscopic examination of EPC monolayers. A comparison of the relative virulence of bacterial cells cultured in EPC cells and on agar plates revealed that the former were markedly more virulent in challenge experiments with juvenile rainbow trout ( Walbaum). The EPC cell culture model provided a system for the study of under more natural conditions than those achieved with plate culture techniques.


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