Isolation and characterization of sorbitol-fermenting Shiga toxin (Verocytotoxin)-producing Escherichia coli O157:H- strains in the Czech Republic.
ABSTRACT: Two sorbitol-fermenting (SF) Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H- strains were isolated from patients with hemolytic-uremic syndrome in the Czech Republic in 1995. Their phenotypic and genotypic characteristics and genomic DNA fingerprints were identical or closely related to those of SF STEC O157:H- strains isolated in Germany in 1988 to 1997. This indicates that the Czech isolates belong to the SF STEC O157 clone which is widespread in Germany. It is the first finding of the clone outside Germany.
Project description:Sorbitol-fermenting (SF) enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H- strains, first identified in Germany, have emerged as important pathogens throughout Europe. Besides chromosomally encoded Shiga toxin 2a (the major virulence factor), several putative virulence loci, including the hly, etp, and sfp operons, encoding EHEC hemolysin, type II secretion system proteins, and Sfp fimbriae, respectively, are located on the 121-kb plasmid pSFO157 in German strains. Here we report novel SF EHEC O157:H- strains isolated from patients in the Czech Republic. These strains share the core genomes and chromosomal virulence loci encoding toxins (stx2a and the cdtV-ABC operon) and adhesins (eae-?, efa1, lpfAO157OI-141, and lpfAO157OI-154) with German strains but differ essentially in their plasmids. In contrast to all previously detected SF EHEC O157:H- strains, the Czech strains carry two plasmids, of 79 kb and 86 kb. The 79-kb plasmid harbors the sfp operon, but neither of the plasmids contains the hly and etp operons. Sequence analyses demonstrated that the 79-kb plasmid (pSFO157 258/98-1) evolved from pSFO157 of German strains by deletion of a 41,534-bp region via homologous recombination, resulting in loss of the hly and etp operons. The 86-kb plasmid (pSFO157 258/98-2) displays 98% sequence similarity to a 92.7-kb plasmid of an extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli bloodstream isolate. Our finding of this novel plasmid composition in SF EHEC O157:H- strains extends the evolutionary history of EHEC O157 plasmids. Moreover, the unique molecular plasmid characteristics permit the identification of such strains, thereby facilitating further investigations of their geographic distribution, clinical significance, and epidemiology.IMPORTANCE Since their first identification in Germany in 1989, sorbitol-fermenting enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H- (nonmotile) strains have emerged as important causes of the life-threatening disease hemolytic-uremic syndrome in Europe. They account for 10 to 20% of sporadic cases of this disease and have caused several large outbreaks. The strains isolated throughout Europe share conserved chromosomal and plasmid characteristics. Here we identified novel sorbitol-fermenting enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H- patient isolates in the Czech Republic which differ from all such strains reported previously by their unique plasmid characteristics, including plasmid number, composition of plasmid-carried virulence genes, and plasmid origins. Our findings contribute substantially to understanding the evolution of E. coli O157 strains and their plasmids. In practical terms, they enable the identification of strains with these novel plasmid characteristics in patient stool samples and thus the investigation of their roles as human pathogens in other geographic areas.
Project description:Non-sorbitol-fermenting (NSF) Escherichia coli O157:H7 is the primary Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) serotype associated with human infection. Since 1988, sorbitol-fermenting (SF) STEC O157:NM strains have emerged and have been associated with a higher incidence of progression to hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) than NSF STEC O157:H7. This study investigated bacterial factors that may account for the increased pathogenic potential of SF STEC O157:NM. While no evidence of toxin or toxin expression differences between the two O157 groups was found, the SF STEC O157:NM strains adhered at significantly higher levels to a human colonic cell line. Under the conditions tested, curli were shown to be the main factor responsible for the increased adherence to Caco-2 cells. Notably, 52 of 66 (79%) European SF STEC O157:NM strains tested bound Congo red at 37 degrees C and this correlated with curli expression. In a subset of strains, curli expression was due to increased expression from the csgBAC promoter that was not always a consequence of increased csgD expression. The capacity of SF STEC O157:NM strains to express curli at 37 degrees C may have relevance to the epidemiology of human infections as curliated strains could promote higher levels of colonization and inflammation in the human intestine. In turn, this could lead to increased toxin exposure and an increased likelihood of progression to HUS.
Project description:The plasmid-borne sfpA gene encodes the pilin subunit in sorbitol-fermenting (SF) enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H-. We investigated the distribution of sfpA among 600 E. coli isolates comprising the complete E. coli standard reference (ECOR) and diarrheagenic E. coli (DEC) strain collections and clinical isolates associated with enteric disease. sfpA was detected in DEC3F SF EHEC O157:H- strain 493/89, each of 107 SF EHEC O157:H- clinical isolates, and 14 Shiga toxin-negative SF E. coli O157:H- strains which contained eae, which encodes gamma-intimin, and fliC, which encodes the H7 antigen. sfpA was absent from all other strains, including the ECOR strain collection, all non-SF EHEC O157:H7 strains, and all E. coli O55:H7 strains (E. coli O55:H7 is the postulated ancestor of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli [STEC] O157). These results suggest that there was a single acquisition of the sfpA gene in the nonmotile SF E. coli O157 branch, presumably after the eae-encoding pathogenicity island (the locus of enterocyte effacement) was acquired and motility was lost. We then applied the sfpA PCR in combination with rfbO157, stx, and eae PCRs to screen 636 stool samples from patients with diarrhea or hemolytic-uremic syndrome for SF STEC O157:H-. In 27 cases, the simultaneous presence of the sfpA, eae, and rfbO157 amplicons indicated the presence of SF E. coli O157:H- strains, and the result was subsequently confirmed by isolation. All but two of these strains possessed stx2. None of the other stool samples was positive by the sfpA PCR; 59 of these stool samples contained EHEC O157:H7. The sfpA gene can be recommended as a target for screening for SF E. coli O157:H-.
Project description:Sorbitol-fermenting (SF) enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H(-) have emerged as important causes of diarrheal diseases and the hemolytic-uremic syndrome in Germany. In this study, we characterized a 32-kb fragment of the plasmid of SF EHEC O157:H(-), pSFO157, which differs markedly from plasmid pO157 of classical non-sorbitol-fermenting EHEC O157:H7. We found a cluster of six genes, termed sfpA, sfpH, sfpC, sfpD, sfpJ, and sfpG, which mediate mannose-resistant hemagglutination and the expression of fimbriae. sfp genes are similar to the pap genes, encoding P-fimbriae of uropathogenic E. coli, but the sfp cluster lacks homologues of genes encoding subunits of a tip fibrillum as well as regulatory genes. The major pilin, SfpA, despite its similarity to PapA, does not cluster together with known PapA alleles in a phylogenetic tree but is structurally related to the PmpA pilin of Proteus mirabilis. The putative adhesin gene sfpG, responsible for the hemagglutination phenotype, shows significant homology neither to papG nor to other known sequences. Sfp fimbriae are 3 to 5 nm in diameter, in contrast to P-fimbriae, which are 7 nm in diameter. PCR analyses showed that the sfp gene cluster is a characteristic of SF EHEC O157:H(-) strains and is not present in other EHEC isolates, diarrheagenic E. coli, or other Enterobacteriaceae. The sfp gene cluster is flanked by two blocks of insertion sequences and an origin of plasmid replication, indicating that horizontal gene transfer may have contributed to the presence of Sfp fimbriae in SF EHEC O157:H(-).
Project description:Sorbitol-fermenting (SF) enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:NM (nonmotile) is a unique clone that causes outbreaks of hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic-uremic syndrome. In well-defined clusters of cases, we have observed significant variability in pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns which could indicate coinfection by different strains. An analysis of randomly selected progeny colonies of an outbreak strain after subcultivation demonstrated that they displayed either the cognate PFGE outbreak pattern or one of four additional patterns and were <89% similar. These profound alterations were associated with changes in the genomic position of one of two Shiga toxin 2-encoding genes (stx2) in the outbreak strain or with the loss of this gene. The two stx2 alleles in the outbreak strain were identical but were flanked with phage-related sequences with only 77% sequence identity. Neither of these phages produced plaques, but one lysogenized E. coli K-12 and integrated in yecE in the lysogens and the wild-type strain. The presence of two stx2 genes which correlated with increased production of Stx2 in vitro but not with the clinical outcome of infection was also found in 14 (21%) of 67 SF EHEC O157:NM isolates from sporadic cases of human disease. The variability of PFGE patterns for the progeny of a single colony must be considered when interpreting PFGE patterns in SF EHEC O157-associated outbreaks.
Project description:An atypical, Stx2-producing, pathogenic Escherichia coli O157:H(-) strain has been isolated with increasing frequency from hemolytic uremic syndrome patients in Germany. The lack of the H7 antigen coupled with the strain's ability to ferment sorbitol and express beta-glucuronidase have complicated its detection and identification. In this study, we have determined that the loss of motility in these German sorbitol-fermenting (SF) O157 strains is due to a 12-bp in-frame deletion in flhC that is required for transcriptional activation of genes involved in flagellum biosynthesis. Either complementation with a functional flhC or repair of this mutation restored H7 antigen expression and motility. PCR analysis of several nonmotile E. coli O157 strains from various geographical sources confirmed that the 12-bp flhC deletion is found only in the cluster of German SF O157 strains, providing a potentially useful marker by which these atypical strains can be identified. The loss of motility via mutations in the flhDC operon that we observed in the German SF O157 strains is consistent with a similar phenomenon currently observed in a significant subset of other important gram-negative pathogens.
Project description:A mosaic genomic island comprising Shigella resistance locus (SRL) sequences flanked by segments of Escherichia coli O157:H7 strain EDL933 O islands 43, 81, and 82 was identified in sorbitol-fermenting (SF) enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H(-) strain 493/89. This mosaic island is absent from strain EDL933. PCR targeting the SRL-related sequence is a useful tool to distinguish SF EHEC O157:H(-) from EHEC O157:H7.
Project description:The sfp gene cluster, unique to sorbitol-fermenting (SF) enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:NM strains, encodes fimbriae that mediate mannose-resistant hemagglutination in laboratory E. coli strains but are not expressed in wild-type SF EHEC O157:NM strains under standard laboratory conditions. We investigated whether Sfp fimbriae are expressed under conditions that mimic the intestinal environment and whether they contribute to the adherence of SF EHEC O157:NM strains to human intestinal epithelial cells. The transcription of sfpA (encoding the major fimbrial subunit) was upregulated in all strains investigated, and all expressed SfpA and possessed fimbriae that reacted with an anti-SfpA antibody when the strains were grown on solid media under anaerobic conditions. Sfp expression was absent under aerobic conditions and in liquid media. Sfp upregulation under anaerobic conditions was significantly higher on blood agar and a medium simulating the colonic environment than on a medium simulating the ileal environment (P < 0.05). The induction of Sfp fimbriae in SF E. coli O157:NM strains correlates with increased adherence to Caco-2 and HCT-8 cells. Our data indicate that the expression of Sfp fimbriae in SF E. coli O157:NM strains is induced under conditions resembling those of the natural site of infection and that Sfp fimbriae may contribute to the adherence of the organisms to human intestinal epithelium.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) have emerged as pathogens that can cause food-borne infections and severe and potentially fatal illnesses in humans, such as haemorrhagic colitis (HC) and haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). In Spain, like in many other countries, STEC strains have been frequently isolated from ruminants, and represent a significant cause of sporadic cases of human infection. In view of the lack of data on STEC isolated from food in Spain, the objectives of this study were to determine the level of microbiological contamination and the prevalence of STEC O157:H7 and non-O157 in a large sampling of minced beef collected from 30 local stores in Lugo city between 1995 and 2003. Also to establish if those STEC isolated from food possessed the same virulence profiles as STEC strains causing human infections. RESULTS: STEC were detected in 95 (12%) of the 785 minced beef samples tested. STEC O157:H7 was isolated from eight (1.0%) samples and non-O157 STEC from 90 (11%) samples. Ninety-six STEC isolates were further characterized by PCR and serotyping. PCR showed that 28 (29%) isolates carried stx1 genes, 49 (51%) possessed stx2 genes, and 19 (20%) both stx1 and stx2. Enterohemolysin (ehxA) and intimin (eae) virulence genes were detected in 43 (45%) and in 25 (26%) of the isolates, respectively. Typing of the eae variants detected four types: gamma1 (nine isolates), beta1 (eight isolates), epsilon1 (three isolates), and theta (two isolates). The majority (68%) of STEC isolates belonged to serotypes previously detected in human STEC and 38% to serotypes associated with STEC isolated from patients with HUS. Ten new serotypes not previously described in raw beef products were also detected. The highly virulent seropathotypes O26:H11 stx1 eae-beta1, O157:H7 stx1stx2 eae-gamma1 and O157:H7 stx2eae-gamma1, which are the most frequently observed among STEC causing human infections in Spain, were detected in 10 of the 96 STEC isolates. Furthermore, phage typing of STEC O157:H7 isolates showed that the majority (seven of eight isolates) belonged to the main phage types previously detected in STEC O157:H7 strains associated with severe human illnesses. CONCLUSION: The results of this study do not differ greatly from those reported in other countries with regard to prevalence of O157 and non-O157 STEC in minced beef. As we suspected, serotypes different from O157:H7 also play an important role in food contamination in Spain, including the highly virulent seropathotype O26:H11 stx1 eae-beta1. Thus, our data confirm minced beef in the city of Lugo as vehicles of highly pathogenic STEC. This requires that control measures to be introduced and implemented to increase the safety of minced beef.
Project description:The toxigenic conversion of Escherichia coli strains by Shiga toxin-converting (Stx) bacteriophages were prominent and recurring events in the stepwise evolution of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O157:H7 from an enteropathogenic (EPEC) O55:H7 ancestor. Atypical, attenuated isolates have been described for both non-sorbitol fermenting (NSF) O157:H7 and SF O157:NM serotypes, which are distinguished by the absence of Stx, the characteristic virulence hallmark of Stx-producing E. coli (STEC). Such atypical isolates either never acquired Stx-phages or may have secondarily lost stx during the course of infection, isolation, or routine subculture; the latter are commonly referred to as LST (Lost Shiga Toxin)-isolates. In this study we analyzed the genomes of 15 NSF O157:H7 and SF O157:NM strains from North America, Europe, and Asia that are characterized by the absence of stx, the virulence hallmark of STEC. The individual genomic basis of the Stx (-) phenotype has remained largely undetermined as the majority of STEC genomes in public genome repositories were generated using short read technology and are in draft stage, posing a major obstacle for the high-resolution whole genome sequence typing (WGST). The application of LRT (long-read technology) sequencing provided us with closed genomes, which proved critical to put the atypical non-shigatoxigenic NSF O157:H7 and SF O157:NM strains into the phylogenomic context of the stepwise evolutionary model. Availability of closed chromosomes for representative Stx (-) NSF O157:H7 and SF O157:NM strains allowed to describe the genomic basis and individual evolutionary trajectories underlying the absence of Stx at high accuracy and resolution. The ability of LRT to recover and accurately assemble plasmids revealed a strong correlation between the strains' featured plasmid genotype and chromosomally inferred clade, which suggests the coevolution of the chromosome and accessory plasmids. The identified ancestral traits in the pSFO157 plasmid of NSF O157:H7 strain LSU-61 provided additional evidence for its intermediate status. Taken together, these observations highlight the utility of LRTs for advancing our understanding of EHEC O157:H7/NM pathogenome evolution. Insights into the genomic and phenotypic plasticity of STEC on a lineage- and genome-wide scale are foundational to improve and inform risk assessment, biosurveillance, and prevention strategies.