Acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND) is a lethal shrimp disease. The pathogenic agent of this disease is a special Vibrio parahaemolyticus strain that contains a pVA1 plasmid. The protein products of two toxin genes in pVA1, pirAvp and pirBvp, targeted the shrimp’s hepatopancreatic cells and were identified as the major virulence factors. However, in addition to pirAvp and pirBvp, pVA1 also contains about ~90 other open-reading frames (ORFs), which may encode functional proteins. NCBI BLASTp annotations of the functional roles of 40 pVA1 genes reveal transposases, conjugation factors, and antirestriction proteins that are involved in horizontal gene transfer, plasmid transmission, and maintenance, as well as components of type II and III secretion systems that may facilitate the toxic effects of pVA1-containing Vibrio spp. There is also evidence of a post-segregational killing (PSK) system that would ensure that only pVA1 plasmid-containing bacteria could survive after segregation. Here, in this review, we assess the functional importance of these pVA1 genes and consider those which might be worthy of further study.
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