Phylogeny, clinical associations, and diagnostic utility of the pilin subunit gene (sfpA) of sorbitol-fermenting, enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H-.
ABSTRACT: 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:We identified a cytolethal distending toxin (cdt) gene cluster in 87, 6, and 0% of sorbitol-fermenting (SF) enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H(-), EHEC O157:H7, and E. coli O55:H7/H(-) strains, respectively. The toxin was expressed by the wild-type EHEC O157 strains and by a cdt-containing cosmid from a library of SF EHEC O157:H(-) strain 493/89. The cdt flanks in strain 493/89 were homologous to bacteriophages P2 and lambda. Our data demonstrate that cdt, encoding a potential virulence factor, is present in the EHEC O157 complex and suggest that cdt may have been acquired by phage transduction.
Project description:Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157 strains belong to two closely related major groups, which are differentiated by their sorbitol fermentation phenotypes. Here we studied the conservation of urease genes and their expression in sorbitol-fermenting (SF) and non-SF EHEC O157 isolates. PCR targeting ure genes (ureA, -B, -C, -D, -E, -F, and -G) demonstrated that each of these genes was present in 58 of 59 EHEC O157:H7 isolates. In contrast, none of 82 SF EHEC O157:NM (nonmotile) isolates contained any of the ure genes. Hence, the absence of the urease genes distinguishes SF EHEC O157:NM strains from EHEC O157:H7, but this absence demonstrates that the urease genes are not useful genetic targets for the detection of EHEC strains, because SF EHEC O157:NM strains are missed by such a strategy. When examined for urease activity on Christensen agar and in the API 20E system, only one O157:H7 strain displayed urease activity and produced elevated levels of ammonia, which was subsequently confirmed by ammonia electrode measurement. Because the ure genes were absent from each of nine strains of E. coli O55:H7, the proposed progenitor of EHEC O157, we hypothesize that EHEC O157:H7 diverged from the evolutionary pathway at an early stage and then acquired the O islands carrying the ure gene cluster.
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: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(+)).
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: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:The distribution of the Escherichia coli attaching and effacing (eae) gene in strains of verotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) isolated from cattle and humans was studied. The majority of strains isolated from humans with bloody diarrhoea or HUS and cattle with severe diarrhoea were eae positive (82 and 83% respectively). In contrast, 59% of VTEC isolated from asymptomatic cattle were eae negative and of the remaining 41% that were eae positive, the majority were serotype O157. H7. The nucleotide sequence of the 3' end of the eae gene of enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) of serotype O55. H7 was found to be almost identical to that of serotype O157. H7. Specific primers are described which detect the eae sequences of VTEC serotypes O157. H7, O157. H-, and EPEC serotypes O55. H7 and O55. H-. The nucleotide sequence of the 3' end of the eae gene of serotype O111. H8 differed significantly from that of O157. H7. Primers were developed to specifically identify the eae sequences of VTEC serotypes O111. H- and O111. H8. We conclude that whereas the majority of VTEC associated with disease in cattle and humans possess the eae gene, the gene itself may not be necessary to produce haemorrhagic colitis and HUS. Sequence heterogeneity in the 3' end of eae alleles of VTEC permits specific identification of subsets of these organisms.
Project description:The sfp cluster, encoding Sfp fimbriae and located in the large plasmid of sorbitol-fermenting (SF) enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157 (pSFO157), has been considered a unique characteristic of this organism. We discovered and then characterized the sfp cluster in EHEC O165:H25/NM (nonmotile) isolates of human and bovine origin. All seven strains investigated harbored a complete sfp cluster (carrying sfpA, sfpH, sfpC, sfpD, sfpJ, sfpF, and sfpG) of 6,838 bp with >99% nucleotide sequence homology to the sfp cluster of SF EHEC O157:NM. The sfp cluster in EHEC O165:H25/NM strains was located in an approximately 80-kb (six strains) or approximately 120-kb (one strain) plasmid which differed in structure, virulence genes, and sfp flanks from pSFO157. All O165:H25/NM strains belonged to the same multilocus sequence type (ST119) and were only distantly phylogenetically related to SF EHEC O157:NM (ST11). The highly conserved sfp cluster in different clonal backgrounds suggests that this segment was acquired independently by EHEC O165:H25 and SF EHEC O157:NM. Its presence in an additional EHEC serotype extends the diagnostic utility of PCR targeting sfpA as an easy and efficient approach to seek EHEC in patients' stools. The reasons for the convergence of pathogenic EHEC strains on a suite of virulence loci remain unknown.
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:Characterization of an Escherichia coli O157 strain collection (n = 42) derived from healthy Hungarian cattle revealed the existence of diverse pathotypes. Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC; eae positive) appeared to be the most frequent pathotype (n = 22 strains), 11 O157 strains were typical enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC; stx and eae positive), and 9 O157 strains were atypical, with none of the key stx and eae virulence genes detected. EHEC and EPEC O157 strains all carried eae-gamma, tir-gamma, tccP, and paa. Other virulence genes located on the pO157 virulence plasmid and different O islands (O island 43 [OI-43] and OI-122), as well as espJ and espM, also characterized the EPEC and EHEC O157 strains with similar frequencies. However, none of these virulence genes were detected by PCR in atypical O157 strains. Interestingly, five of nine atypical O157 strains produced cytolethal distending toxin V (CDT-V) and carried genes encoding long polar fimbriae. Macro-restriction fragment enzyme analysis (pulsed-field gel electrophoresis) revealed that these E. coli O157 strains belong to four main clusters. Multilocus sequence typing analysis revealed that five housekeeping genes were identical in EHEC and EPEC O157 strains but were different in the atypical O157 strains. These results suggest that the Hungarian bovine E. coli O157 strains represent at least two main clones: EHEC/EPEC O157:H7/NM (nonmotile) and atypical CDT-V-producing O157 strains with H antigens different from H7. The CDT-V-producing O157 strains represent a novel genogroup. The pathogenic potential of these strains remains to be elucidated.