Genomic diversity and virulence profiles of historical Escherichia coli O157 strains isolated from clinical and environmental sources.
ABSTRACT: Escherichia coli O157:H7 is, to date, the major E. coli serotype causing food-borne human disease worldwide. Strains of O157 with other H antigens also have been recovered. We analyzed a collection of historic O157 strains (n = 400) isolated in the late 1980s to early 1990s in the United States. Strains were predominantly serotype O157:H7 (55%), and various O157:non-H7 (41%) serotypes were not previously reported regarding their pathogenic potential. Although lacking Shiga toxin (stx) and eae genes, serotypes O157:H1, O157:H2, O157:H11, O157:H42, and O157:H43 carried several virulence factors (iha, terD, and hlyA) also found in virulent serotype E. coli O157:H7. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) showed the O157 serogroup was diverse, with strains with the same H type clustering together closely. Among non-H7 isolates, serotype O157:H43 was highly prevalent (65%) and carried important enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) virulence markers (iha, terD, hlyA, and espP). Isolates from two particular H types, H2 and H11, among the most commonly found non-O157 EHEC serotypes (O26:H11, O111:H11, O103:H2/H11, and O45:H2), unexpectedly clustered more closely with O157:H7 than other H types and carried several virulence genes. This suggests an early divergence of the O157 serogroup to clades with different pathogenic potentials. The appearance of important EHEC virulence markers in closely related H types suggests their virulence potential and suggests further monitoring of those serotypes not implicated in severe illness thus far.
Project description:Evolutionary analyses of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) have identified two distantly related clonal groups: EHEC 1, including serotype O157:H7 and its inferred ancestor O55:H7; and EHEC 2, comprised of several serogroups (O26, O111, O118, etc.). These two clonal groups differ in their virulence and global distribution. Although several fully annotated genomic sequences exist for strains of serotype O157:H7, much less is known about the genomic composition of EHEC 2. In this study, we analyzed a set of 24 clinical EHEC 2 strains representing serotypes O26:H11, O111:H8/H11, O118:H16, O153:H11 and O15:H11 from humans and animals by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) on an oligoarray based on the O157:H7 Sakai genome.Backbone genes, defined as genes shared by Sakai and K-12, were highly conserved in EHEC 2. The proportion of Sakai phage genes in EHEC 2 was substantially greater than that of Sakai-specific bacterial (non-phage) genes. This proportion was inverted in O55:H7, reiterating that a subset of Sakai bacterial genes is specific to EHEC 1. Split decomposition analysis of gene content revealed that O111:H8 was more genetically uniform and distinct from other EHEC 2 strains, with respect to the Sakai O157:H7 gene distribution. Serotype O26:H11 was the most heterogeneous EHEC 2 subpopulation, comprised of strains with the highest as well as the lowest levels of Sakai gene content conservation. Of the 979 parsimoniously informative genes, 15% were found to be compatible and their distribution in EHEC 2 clustered O111:H8 and O118:H16 strains by serotype. CGH data suggested divergence of the LEE island from the LEE1 to the LEE4 operon, and also between animal and human isolates irrespective of serotype. No correlation was found between gene contents and geographic locations of EHEC 2 strains.The gene content variation of phage-related genes in EHEC 2 strains supports the hypothesis that extensive modular shuffling of mobile DNA elements has occurred among EHEC strains. These results suggest that EHEC 2 is a multiform pathogenic clonal complex, characterized by substantial intra-serotype genetic variation. The heterogeneous distribution of mobile elements has impacted the diversification of O26:H11 more than other EHEC 2 serotypes.
Project description:We explored the genetic diversity of the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) regions of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) to design simplex real-time PCR assays for each of the seven most important EHEC serotypes worldwide. A panel of 958 E. coli strains investigated for their CRISPR loci by high-throughput real-time PCR showed that CRISPR polymorphisms in E. coli strongly correlated with both O:H serotypes and the presence of EHEC virulence factors (stx and eae genes). The CRISPR sequences chosen for simplex real-time PCR amplification of EHEC strains belonging to the top 7 EHEC serogroups differentiated clearly between EHEC and non-EHEC strains. Specificity estimates for the CRISPR PCR assays varied from 97.5% to 100%. Sensitivity estimates for the assays ranged from 95.7% to 100%. The assays targeting EHEC O145:H28, O103:H2, and O45:H2 displayed 100% sensitivity. The combined usage of two simplex PCR assays targeting different sequences of the O26 CRISPR locus allowed detection of EHEC O26:H11 with 100% sensitivity. By combining two simplex PCR assays targeting different sequences of the EHEC O157 CRISPR locus, EHEC O157:H7 was detected with 99.56% sensitivity. EHEC O111:H8 and EHEC O121:H19 were detected with 95.9% and 95.7% sensitivity, respectively. This study demonstrates that the identification of EHEC serotype-specific CRISPR sequences is more specific than the mere identification of O-antigen gene sequences, as is used in current PCR protocols for detection of EHEC strains.
Project description:Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains are a diverse group of food-borne pathogens with various levels of virulence for humans. In this study, we describe the use of a combination of multiple real-time PCR assays for the screening of 400 raw-milk cheeses for the five main pathogenic STEC serotypes (O26:H11, O103:H2, O111:H8, O145:H28, and O157:H7). The prevalences of samples positive for stx, intimin-encoding gene (eae), and at least one of the five O group genetic markers were 29.8%, 37.3%, and 55.3%, respectively. The H2, H7, H8, H11, and H28 fliC alleles were highly prevalent and could not be used as reliable targets for screening. Combinations of stx, eae variants, and O genetic markers, which are typical of the five targeted STEC serotypes, were detected by real-time PCR in 6.5% of the cheeses (26 samples) and included stx-wzx(O26)-eae-?1 (4.8%; 19 samples), stx-wzx(O103)-eae-? (1.3%; five samples), stx-ihp1(O145)-eae-?1 (0.8%; three samples), and stx-rfbE(O157)-eae-?1 (0.3%; one sample). Twenty-eight immunomagnetic separation (IMS) assays performed on samples positive for these combinations allowed the recovery of seven eae?1-positive STEC O26:H11 isolates, whereas no STEC O103:H2, O145:H28, or O157:H7 strains could be isolated. Three stx-negative and eae?1-positive E. coli O26:[H11] strains were also isolated from cheeses by IMS. Colony hybridization allowed us to recover STEC from stx-positive samples for 15 out of 45 assays performed, highlighting the difficulties encountered in STEC isolation from dairy products. The STEC O26:H11 isolates shared the same virulence genetic profile as enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O26:H11, i.e., they carried the virulence-associated genes EHEC-hlyA, katP, and espP, as well as genomic O islands 71 and 122. Except for one strain, they all contained the stx1 variant only, which was reported to be less frequently associated with human cases than stx2. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis showed that they displayed high genetic diversity; none of them had patterns identical to those of human O26:H11 strains investigated here.
Project description:A total of 514 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) isolates from diarrheic and healthy cattle in Spain were characterized in this study. PCR showed that 101 (20%) isolates carried stx(1) genes, 278 (54%) possessed stx(2) genes, and 135 (26%) possessed both stx(1) and stx(2). Enterohemolysin (ehxA) and intimin (eae) virulence genes were detected in 326 (63%) and in 151 (29%) of the isolates, respectively. STEC isolates belonged to 66 O serogroups and 113 O:H serotypes (including 23 new serotypes). However, 67% were of one of these 15 serogroups (O2, O4, O8, O20, O22, O26, O77, O91, O105, O113, O116, O157, O171, O174, and OX177) and 52% of the isolates belonged to only 10 serotypes (O4:H4, O20:H19, O22:H8, O26:H11, O77:H41, O105:H18, O113:H21, O157:H7, O171:H2, and ONT:H19). Although the 514 STEC isolates belonged to 164 different seropathotypes (associations between serotypes and virulence genes), only 12 accounted for 43% of isolates. Seropathotype O157:H7 stx(2) eae-gamma1 ehxA (46 isolates) was the most common, followed by O157:H7 stx(1) stx(2) eae-gamma1 ehxA (34 isolates), O113:H21 stx(2) (25 isolates), O22:H8 stx(1) stx(2) ehxA (15 isolates), O26:H11 stx(1) eae-beta1 ehxA (14 isolates), and O77:H41 stx(2) ehxA (14 isolates). Forty-one (22 of serotype O26:H11) isolates had intimin beta1, 82 O157:H7 isolates possessed intimin gamma1, three O111:H- isolates had intimin type gamma2, one O49:H- strain showed intimin type delta, 13 (six of serotype O103:H2) isolates had intimin type epsilon and eight (four of serotype O156:H-) isolates had intimin zeta. We have identified a new variant of the eae intimin gene designated xi (xi) in two isolates of serotype O80:H-. The majority (85%) of bovine STEC isolates belonged to serotypes previously found for human STEC organisms and 54% to serotypes associated with STEC organisms isolated from patients with hemolytic uremic syndrome. Thus, this study confirms that cattle are a major reservoir of STEC strains pathogenic for humans.
Project description:Rapid and specific detection of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains with a high level of virulence for humans has become a priority for public health authorities. This study reports on the development of a low-density macroarray for simultaneously testing the genes stx1, stx2, eae, and ehxA and six different nle genes issued from genomic islands OI-122 (ent, nleB, and nleE) and OI-71 (nleF, nleH1-2, and nleA). Various strains of E. coli isolated from the environment, food, animals, and healthy children have been compared with clinical isolates of various seropathotypes. The eae gene was detected in all enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) strains as well as in enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) strains, except in EHEC O91:H21 and EHEC O113:H21. The gene ehxA was more prevalent in EHEC (90%) than in STEC (42.66%) strains, in which it was unequally distributed. The nle genes were detected only in some EPEC and EHEC strains but with various distributions, showing that nle genes are strain and/or serotype specific, probably reflecting adaptation of the strains to different hosts or environmental niches. One characteristic nle gene distribution in EHEC O157:[H7], O111:[H8], O26:[H11], O103:H25, O118:[H16], O121:[H19], O5:H-, O55:H7, O123:H11, O172:H25, and O165:H25 was ent/espL2, nleB, nleE, nleF, nleH1-2, nleA. (Brackets indicate genotyping of the flic or rfb genes.) A second nle pattern (ent/espL2, nleB, nleE, nleH1-2) was characteristic of EHEC O103:H2, O145:[H28], O45:H2, and O15:H2. The presence of eae, ent/espL2, nleB, nleE, and nleH1-2 genes is a clear signature of STEC strains with high virulence for humans.
Project description:Intimins are outer membrane proteins expressed by enteric bacterial pathogens capable of inducing intestinal attachment-and-effacement lesions. A eukaryotic cell-binding domain is located within a 280-amino-acid (Int280) carboxy terminus of intimin polypeptides. Polyclonal antiserum was raised against Int280 from enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) serotypes O127:H6 and O114:H2 (anti-Int280-H6 and anti-Int280-H2, respectively), and Western blot analysis was used to explore the immunological relationship between the intimin polypeptides expressed by different clinical EPEC and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) isolates, a rabbit diarrheagenic E. coli strain (RDEC-1), and Citrobacter rodentium. Anti-Int280-H6 serum reacted strongly with some EPEC serotypes, whereas anti-Int280-H2 serum reacted strongly with strains belonging to different EPEC and EHEC serotypes, RDEC-1, and C. rodentium. These observations were confirmed by using purified Int280 in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and by immunogold and immunofluorescence labelling of whole bacterial cells. Some bacterial strains were recognized poorly by either antiserum (e.g., EPEC O86:H34 and EHEC O157:H7). By using PCR primers designed on the basis of the intimin-encoding eae gene sequences of serotype O127:H6, O114:H2, and O86:H34 EPEC and serotype O157:H7 EHEC, we could distinguish between different eae gene derivatives. Accordingly, the different intimin types were designated alpha, beta, delta, and gamma, respectively.
Project description:Type 3 secretion systems (T3SSs) are utilized by pathogenic Escherichia coli to infect their hosts and many proteins from these systems are affected by chaperones specific to T3SS-containing bacteria. Toward developing a recombinant vaccine against enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), we expressed recombinant T3SS and related proteins from predominant EHEC serotypes in Nicotiana chloroplasts. Nicotiana benthamiana were transiently transformed to express chloroplast-targeted Tir, NleA, and EspD from the EHEC serotype O157:H7; a fusion of EspA proteins from serotypes O157:H7 and O26:H11; and a fusion of epitopes of Tir (Tir-ep) from serotypes O157:H7, O26:H11, O45:H2, and O111:H8. C-terminal GFP reporter fusion constructs were also developed and transiently expressed to confirm subcellular localization and quantify relative expression levels in situ. Recombinant proteins were co-expressed with chaperones specific to each T3SS protein with the goal of increasing their accumulation in the chloroplast. We found that co-expression with the chloroplast-targeted chaperone CesT significantly increases accumulation of recombinant Tir when the latter is either transiently expressed in the nucleus and targeted to the chloroplast of N. benthamiana or stably expressed in transplastomic Nicotiana tabacum. CesT also helped maintain higher levels of Tir:GFP fusion protein over time both in vivo and ex vivo, indicating that the favorable effect of CesT on accumulation of Tir is not specific to a single time point or to fresh material. By contrast, T3SS chaperones CesT, CesAB, CesD, and CesD2 did not increase accumulation of NleA:GFP, EspA:GFP, or EspD:GFP, which suggests dissimilar functioning of these chaperone-substrate combinations. CesT did not increase accumulation of Tir-ep:GFP, which may be due to the absence of the CesT binding domain from this fusion protein. The fusion to GFP improved accumulation of Tir-ep relative to the unfused protein, but not for the other recombinant proteins. These results emphasize the importance of native chaperones and stabilizing fusions as potential tools for the production of higher levels of recombinant proteins in plants; and may have implications for understanding interactions between T3SS chaperones and their substrates. In particular, our findings highlight the potential of T3SS chaperones to increase accumulation of recombinant T3SS proteins in heterologous systems.
Project description:Fecal swabs obtained from 1,300 healthy lambs in 93 flocks in Spain in 1997 were examined for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). STEC O157:H7 strains were isolated from 5 (0.4%) animals in 4 flocks, and non-O157 STEC strains were isolated from 462 (36%) lambs in 63 flocks. A total of 384 ovine STEC strains were characterized in this study. PCR showed that 213 (55%) strains carried the stx(1) gene, 10 (3%) possessed the stx(2) gene, and 161 (42%) carried both the stx(1) and the stx(2) genes. Enterohemolysin (ehxA) and intimin (eae) virulence genes were detected in 106 (28%) and 23 (6%) of the STEC strains, respectively. The STEC strains belonged to 35 O serogroups and 64 O:H serotypes (including 18 new serotypes). However, 72% were of 1 of the following 12 serotypes: O5:H-, O6:H10, O91:H-, O117:H-, O128:H-, O128:H2, O136:H20, O146:H8, O146:H21, O156:H-, O166:H28, and ONT:H21 (where NT is nontypeable). Although the 384 STEC strains belonged to 95 different seropathotypes (associations between serotypes and virulence genes), 49% of strains belonged to only 11. O91:H- stx(1) stx(2) (54 strains) was the most common seropathotype, followed by O128:H- stx(1) stx(2) (33 strains) and O6:H10 stx(1) (25 strains). Three strains of serotypes O26:H11, O156:H11, and OX177:H11 had intimin type beta1; 5 strains of serotype O157:H7 possessed intimin type gamma1; and 15 strains of serotypes O49:H-, O52:H12, O156:H- (12 strains), and O156:H25 had the new intimin, intimin type zeta. The majority (82%) of ovine STEC strains belonged to serotypes previously found to be associated with human STEC strains, and 51% belonged to serotypes associated with STEC strains isolated from patients with hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Thus, this study confirms that healthy sheep are a major reservoir of STEC strains pathogenic for humans.
Project description:A total of 140 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains from wildlife meat (deer, wild boar, and hare) isolated in Germany between 1998 and 2006 were characterized with respect to their serotypes and virulence markers associated with human pathogenicity. The strains grouped into 38 serotypes, but eight O groups (21, 146, 128, 113, 22, 88, 6, and 91) and four H types (21, 28, 2, and 8) accounted for 71.4% and 75.7% of all STEC strains from game, respectively. Eighteen of the serotypes, including enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O26:[H11] and O103:H2, were previously found to be associated with human illness. Genes linked to high-level virulence for humans (stx(2), stx(2d), and eae) were present in 46 (32.8%) STEC strains from game. Fifty-four STEC isolates from game belonged to serotypes which are frequently found in human patients (O103:H2, O26:H11, O113:H21, O91:H21, O128:H2, O146:H21, and O146:H28). These 54 STEC isolates were compared with 101 STEC isolates belonging to the same serotypes isolated from farm animals, from their food products, and from human patients. Within a given serotype, most STEC strains were similar with respect to their stx genotypes and other virulence attributes, regardless of origin. The 155 STEC strains were analyzed for genetic similarity by XbaI pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. O103:H2, O26:H11, O113:H21, O128:H2, and O146:H28 STEC isolates from game were 85 to 100% similar to STEC isolates of the same strains from human patients. By multilocus sequence typing, game EHEC O103:H2 strains were attributed to a clonal lineage associated with hemorrhagic diseases in humans. The results from our study indicate that game animals represent a reservoir for and a potential source of human pathogenic STEC and EHEC strains.
Project description:Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) of serotype O157:H7 has been implicated in food-borne illnesses worldwide. An evolutionary model was proposed in which the highly pathogenic EHEC O157:H7 serotype arose from its ancestor, enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) O55:H7 (sorbitol fermenting [SOR(+)] and ?-glucuronidase positive [GUD(+)]), through sequential gain of virulence, phenotypic traits, and serotype change. Here we report six draft genomes of strains belonging to this evolutionary model: two EPEC O55:H7 (SOR(+) GUD(+)) strains, two nonmotile EHEC O157:H(-) strains (SOR(+) GUD(+)) containing plasmid pSFO157, one EHEC O157:H7 (SOR(-) GUD(+)) strain, and one O157:H7 strain containing plasmid pSFO157 (SOR(+) GUD(+)).