Is Shiga Toxin-Negative Escherichia coli O157:H7 Enteropathogenic or Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli? Comprehensive Molecular Analysis Using Whole-Genome Sequencing.
ABSTRACT: The ability of Escherichia coli O157:H7 to induce cellular damage leading to disease in humans is related to numerous virulence factors, most notably the stx gene, encoding Shiga toxin (Stx) and carried by a bacteriophage. Loss of the Stx-encoding bacteriophage may occur during infection or culturing of the strain. Here, we collected stx-positive and stx-negative variants of E. coli O157:H7/NM (nonmotile) isolates from patients with gastrointestinal complaints. Isolates were characterized by whole-genome sequencing (WGS), and their virulence properties and phylogenetic relationship were determined. Because of the presence of the eae gene but lack of the bfpA gene, the stx-negative isolates were considered atypical enteropathogenic E. coli (aEPEC). However, they had phenotypic characteristics similar to those of the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) isolates and belonged to the same sequence type, ST11. Furthermore, EPEC and STEC isolates shared similar virulence genes, the locus of enterocyte effacement region, and plasmids. Core genome phylogenetic analysis using a gene-by-gene typing approach showed that the sorbitol-fermenting (SF) stx-negative isolates clustered together with an SF STEC isolate and that one non-sorbitol-fermenting (NSF) stx-negative isolate clustered together with NSF STEC isolates. Therefore, these stx-negative isolates were thought either to have lost the Stx phage or to be a progenitor of STEC O157:H7/NM. As detection of STEC infections is often based solely on the identification of the presence of stx genes, these may be misdiagnosed in routine laboratories. Therefore, an improved diagnostic approach is required to manage identification, strategies for treatment, and prevention of transmission of these potentially pathogenic strains.
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.
Project description:We have isolated one sorbitol-nonfermenting (SNF) Escherichia coli O157:H7 isolate and five sorbitol-fermenting (SF) E. coli O157:H(-) isolates that do not contain Shiga toxin (Stx) genes (stx). Isolates originated from patients with diarrhea (n = 4) and hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) (n = 2). All isolates harbored a chromosomal eae gene encoding gamma-intimin as well as the plasmid genes E-hly and etp. The E. coli O157:H7 isolate was katP and espP positive. Respective sera obtained from the patient with HUS contained antibodies to the O157 lipopolysaccharide antigen. The stx-negative E. coli O157:H7 isolate is genetically related to stx-positive SNF E. coli O157:H7. All stx-negative SF E. coli O157:H(-) isolates belong to the same genetic cluster and are closely related to stx-positive SF E. coli O157:H(-) isolates. Our data indicate that stx-negative E. coli O157:H7/H(-) variants may occur at a low frequency and cannot be recognized by diagnostic methods that target Stx.
Project description:As it descended from Escherichia coli O55:H7, Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing E. coli (STEC) O157:H7 is believed to have acquired, in sequence, a bacteriophage encoding Stx2 and another encoding Stx1. Between these events, sorbitol-fermenting E. coli O157:H(-) presumably diverged from this clade. We employed PCR and sequence analyses to investigate sites of bacteriophage integration into the chromosome, using evolutionarily informative STEC to trace the sequence of acquisition of elements encoding Stx. Contrary to expectations from the two currently sequenced strains, truncated bacteriophages occupy yehV in almost all E. coli O157:H7 strains that lack stx(1) (stx(1)-negative strains). Two truncated variants were determined to contain either GTT or TGACTGTT sequence, in lieu of 20,214 or 18,895 bp, respectively, of the bacteriophage central region. A single-nucleotide polymorphism in the latter variant suggests that recombination in that element extended beyond the inserted octamer. An stx(2) bacteriophage usually occupies wrbA in stx(1)(+)/stx(2)(+) E. coli O157:H7, but wrbA is unexpectedly unoccupied in most stx(1)-negative/stx(2)(+) E. coli O157:H7 strains, the presumed progenitors of stx(1)(+)/stx(2)(+) E. coli O157:H7. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole promotes the excision of all, and ciprofloxacin and fosfomycin significantly promote the excision of a subset of complete and truncated stx bacteriophages from the E. coli O157:H7 strains tested; bile salts usually attenuate excision. These data demonstrate the unexpected diversity of the chromosomal architecture of E. coli O157:H7 (with novel truncated bacteriophages and multiple stx(2) bacteriophage insertion sites), suggest that stx(1) acquisition might be a multistep process, and compel the consideration of multiple exogenous factors, including antibiotics and bile, when chromosome stability is examined.
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:Strains of enterohemorragic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 that are non-sorbitol fermenting (NSF) and ?-glucuronidase negative (GUD(-)) carry a large virulence plasmid, pO157 (>90,000 bp), whereas closely related sorbitol-fermenting (SF) E. coli O157:H(-) strains carry plasmid pSFO157 (>120,000 bp). GUD(+) NSF O157:H7 strains are presumed to be precursors of GUD(-) NSF O157:H7 strains that also carry pO157. In this study, we report the complete sequence of a novel virulence plasmid, pO157-2 (89,762 bp), isolated from GUD(+) NSF O157:H7 strain G5101. PCR analysis confirmed the presence of pO157-2 in six other strains of GUD(+) NSF O157:H7. pO157-2 carries genes associated with virulence (e.g., hemolysin genes) and conjugation (tra and trb genes) but lacks katP and espP present in pO157. Comparative analysis of the three EHEC plasmids shows that pO157-2 is highly related to pO157 and pSFO157 but not ancestral to pO157. These results indicated that GUD(+) NSF O157:H7 strains might not be direct precursors to GUD(-) NSF O157:H7 as previously proposed but rather have evolved independently from a common ancestor.
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:Alongside the well-characterized enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7, serogroup O157 comprises sorbitol-fermenting typical and atypical enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC/aEPEC) strains that carry the intimin-encoding gene eae but not Shiga toxin-encoding genes (stx). Since little is known about these pathogens, we characterized 30 clinical isolates from patients with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) or uncomplicated diarrhea with respect to their flagellin gene (fliC) type and multilocus sequence type (MLST). Moreover, we applied whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to determine the phylogenetic relationship with other eae-positive EHEC serotypes and the composition of the rfbO157 region. fliC typing resulted in five fliC types (H7, H16, H34, H39, and H45). Isolates of each fliC type shared a unique ST. In comparison to the 42 HUS-associated E. coli (HUSEC) strains, only the stx-negative isolates with fliCH7 shared their ST with EHEC O157:H7/H(-) strains. With the exception of one O157:H(-) fliCH16 isolate, HUS was exclusively associated with fliCH7. WGS corroborated the separation of the fliCH7 isolates, which were closely related to the EHEC O157:H7/H(-) isolates, and the diverse group of isolates exhibiting different fliC types, indicating independent evolution of the different serotypes. This was also supported by the heterogeneity within the rfbO157 region that exhibited extensive recombinations. The genotypic subtypes and distribution of clinical symptoms suggested that the stx-negative O157 strains with fliCH7 were originally EHEC strains that lost stx The remaining isolates form a distinct and diverse group of atypical EPEC isolates that do not possess the full spectrum of virulence genes, underlining the importance of identifying the H antigen for clinical risk assessment.
Project description:Highly pathogenic enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157 cause a spectrum of clinical signs that include diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, and hemolytic uremic syndrome. The current evolutionary model of EHEC O157:H7/H(-) consists of a stepwise evolution scenario proceeding from O55:H7 to a node (hypothetical intermediate) that then branches into sorbitol-fermenting (SF) O157:H(-) and non-SF (NSF) O157:H7. To identify this hypothetical intermediate, we performed single nucleotide polymorphism analysis by sequencing of 92 randomly distributed backbone genomic regions of 40 O157:H7/H(-) isolates. Overall, 111 single nucleotide polymorphisms were identified in 75/92 partial open reading frames after sequencing 51,041 nt/strain. The EHEC O157:H7 strain LSU-61 from deer occupied an intermediate position between O55:H7 and both O157 branches (SF and NSF O157), complementing the stepwise evolutionary model of EHEC O157:H7/H(-). The animal origin of this intermediate emphasizes the value of nonhuman reservoirs in the clarification of the evolution of human pathogens.
Project description:We have analyzed the prevalence of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in stool specimens of patients with diarrhea or other gastrointestinal alterations from the Xeral-Calde Hospital of Lugo City (Spain). STEC strains were detected in 126 (2.5%) of 5,054 cases investigated, with a progressive increase in the incidence from 0% in 1992 to 4.4% in 1999. STEC O157:H7 was isolated in 24 cases (0.5%), whereas non-O157 STEC strains were isolated from 87 patients (1.7%). STEC strains were (after Salmonella and Campylobacter strains) the third most frequently recovered enteropathogenic bacteria. A total of 126 human STEC isolates were characterized in this study. PCR showed that 43 (34%) isolates carried stx(1) genes, 45 (36%) possessed stx(2) genes and 38 (30%) carried both stx(1) and stx(2). A total of 88 (70%) isolates carried an ehxA enterohemolysin gene, and 70 (56%) isolates possessed an eae intimin gene (27 isolates with type gamma1, 20 with type beta1, 8 with type zeta, 5 with type gamma2, and 3 with type epsilon). STEC isolates belonged to 41 O serogroups and 66 O:H serotypes, including 21 serotypes associated with hemolytic uremic syndrome and 30 new serotypes not previously reported among human STEC strains in other studies. Although the 126 STEC isolates belonged to 81 different seropathotypes (associations between serotypes and virulence genes), only four accounted for 31% of isolates. Seropathotype O157:H7 stx(1) stx(2) eae-gamma1 ehxA was the most common (13 isolates) followed by O157:H7 stx(2) eae-gamma1 ehxA (11 isolates), O26:H11 stx(1) eae-beta1 ehxA (11 isolates), and O111:H- stx(1) stx(2) eae-gamma2 ehxA (4 isolates). Our results suggest that STEC strains are a significant cause of human infections in Spain and confirm that in continental Europe, infections caused by STEC non-O157 strains are more common than those caused by O157:H7 isolates. The high prevalence of STEC strains (both O157:H7 and non-O157 strains) in human patients, and their association with serious complications, strongly supports the utilization of protocols for detection of all serotypes of STEC in Spanish clinical microbiology laboratories.
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.