Molecular characteristics and epidemiological significance of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O26 strains.
ABSTRACT: Fifty-five Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O26:H11 and O26:H(-) strains isolated from humans between 1965 and 1999 in Germany and the Czech Republic were investigated for their chromosomal and plasmid characteristics. All motile (n = 23) and nonmotile (n = 32) STEC O26 strains were shown to possess the identical flagellin subunit-encoding gene (fliC). We observed a striking recent shift of the stx genotype from stx(1) to stx(2) among the STEC O26 isolates. While stx(1) was the exclusive genotype identified in our collection until 1994, 94% of the isolates obtained after 1997 possessed stx(2) either alone (71%) or together with stx(1) (23%). Plasmid profiling demonstrated a remarkable heterogeneity with respect to plasmid sizes and combinations. Southern blot analysis of plasmid DNA with probes specific to potential accessory virulence genes revealed considerable additional variability in gene composition and arrangement. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) differentiated 16 subgroups among the 55 STEC O26 strains. Using these techniques we demonstrate the emergence of a new clonal subgroup characterized by PFGE pattern A and a unique combination of virulence markers including stx(2) and a single, approximately 90-kb plasmid harboring the enterhemorrhagic E. coli hlyA and etp genes. The proportion of PFGE subgroup A strains among STEC O26 isolates rose from 30% in 1996 to more than 50% in 1999. Four clusters of infections with the clonal subgroup A were identified. We conclude that the STEC serogroup O26 is diverse and that pathogenic clonal subgroups can rapidly emerge during short intervals. The extensive genetic diversity of STEC O26 provides a basis for molecular subtyping of this important non-O157 STEC serogroup.
Project description:Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O26 is the second leading E. coli serogroup responsible for human illness outbreaks behind E. coli O157:H7. Recent outbreaks have been linked to emerging pathogenic O26:H11 strains harboring stx 2 only. Cattle have been recognized as an important reservoir of O26 strains harboring stx 1; however the reservoir of these emerging stx 2 strains is unknown. The objective of this study was to identify nucleotide polymorphisms in human and cattle-derived strains in order to compare differences in polymorphism derived genotypes and virulence gene profiles between the two host species. Whole genome sequencing was performed on 182 epidemiologically unrelated O26 strains, including 109 human-derived strains and 73 non-human-derived strains. A panel of 289 O26 strains (241 STEC and 48 non-STEC) was subsequently genotyped using a set of 283 polymorphisms identified by whole genome sequencing, resulting in 64 unique genotypes. Phylogenetic analyses identified seven clusters within the O26 strains. The seven clusters did not distinguish between isolates originating from humans or cattle; however, clusters did correspond with particular virulence gene profiles. Human and non-human-derived strains harboring stx 1 clustered separately from strains harboring stx 2, strains harboring eae, and non-STEC strains. Strains harboring stx 2 were more closely related to non-STEC strains and strains harboring eae than to strains harboring stx 1. The finding of human and cattle-derived strains with the same polymorphism derived genotypes and similar virulence gene profiles, provides evidence that similar strains are found in cattle and humans and transmission between the two species may occur.
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:The prevalence of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in Japan was examined by using stool samples from 87 calves, 88 heifers, and 183 cows on 78 farms. As determined by screening with stx-PCR, the prevalence was 46% in calves, 66% in heifers, and 69% in cows; as determined by nested stx-PCR, the prevalence was 100% in all animal groups. Of the 962 isolates picked by colony stx hybridization, 92 isolates from 54 farms were characterized to determine their O serogroups, virulence factor genes, and antimicrobial resistance. Of these 92 isolates, 74 (80%) could be classified into O serogroups; 50% of these 74 isolates belonged to O serogroups O8, O26, O84, O113, and O116 and 1 isolate belonged to O serogroup O157. Locus of enterocyte effacement genes were detected in 24% of the isolates, and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) hlyA genes were detected in 72% of the isolates. Neither the bundle-forming pilus gene nor the enteropathogenic E. coli adherence factor plasmid was found. STEC strains with characteristics typical of isolates from human EHEC infections, which were regarded as potential EHEC strains, were present on 11.5% of the farms.
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:Escherichia coli O26 is the second most important enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) serogroup worldwide. Serogroup O26 strains are categorized mainly into two groups: enteropathogenic (EPEC) O26, carrying a locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) and mostly causing mild diarrhea, and Shiga-toxigenic (STEC) O26, which carries the Shiga toxin (STX) gene (stx), responsible for more severe outcomes. stx-negative O26 strains can be further split into two groups. One O26 group differs significantly from O26 EHEC, while the other O26 EHEC-like group shows all the characteristics of EHEC O26 except production of STX. In order to determine the different populations of O26 E. coli present in U.S. cattle, we sequenced 42 O26:H11 strains isolated from feedlot cattle and compared them to 37 O26:H11 genomes available in GenBank. Phylogenetic analysis by whole-genome multilocus sequence typing (wgMLST) showed that O26:H11/H(-) strains in U.S. cattle were highly diverse. Most strains were sequence type 29 (ST29). By wgMLST, two clear lineages could be distinguished among cattle strains. Lineage 1 consisted of O26:H11 EHEC-like strains (ST29) (4 strains) and O26:H11 EHEC strains (ST21) (2 strains), and lineage 2 (36 strains) consisted of O26:H11 EPEC strains (ST29). Overall, our analysis showed U.S. cattle carried pathogenic (ST21; stx1 (+) ehxA(+) toxB(+)) and also potentially pathogenic (ST29; ehxA(+) toxB(+)) O26:H11 E. coli strains. Furthermore, in silico analysis showed that 70% of the cattle strains carried at least one antimicrobial resistance gene. Our results showed that whole-genome sequence analysis is a robust and valid approach to identify and genetically characterize E. coli O26:H11, which is of importance for food safety and public health.Escherichia coli O26 is the second most important type of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) worldwide. Serogroup O26 strains are categorized into two groups: enteropathogenic (EPEC) carrying LEE, causing mild diarrhea, and Shiga toxigenic (STEC) carrying the stx gene, responsible for more severe outcomes. However, there are currently problems in distinguishing one group from the other. Furthermore, several O26 stx-negative strains are consistently misidentified as either EHEC-like or EPEC. The use of whole-genome sequence (WGS) analysis of O26 strains from cattle in the United States (i) allowed identification of O26 strains present in U.S. cattle, (ii) determined O26 strain diversity, (iii) solved the misidentification problem, and (iv) screened for the presence of antimicrobial resistance and virulence genes in the strains. This study provided a framework showing how to easily and rapidly use WGS information to identify and genetically characterize E. coli O26:H11, which is important for food safety and public health.
Project description:Escherichia coli O26 has been identified as the most common non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) serogroup to cause human illnesses in the United States and has been implicated in outbreaks around the world. E. coli has high genomic plasticity, which facilitates the loss or acquisition of virulence genes. Attaching and effacing E. coli (AEEC) O26 strains have frequently been isolated from bovine feces, and there is a need to better characterize the relatedness of these strains to defined molecular pathotypes and to describe the extent of their genetic diversity. High-throughput real-time PCR was used to screen 178 E. coli O26 isolates from a single U.S. cattle feedlot, collected from May to July 2011, for the presence or absence of 25 O26 serogroup-specific and virulence-associated markers. The selected markers were capable of distinguishing these strains into molecularly defined groups (yielding 18 unique marker combinations). Analysis of the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat 1 (CRISPR1) and CRISPR2a loci further discriminated isolates into 24 CRISPR types. The combination of molecular markers and CRISPR typing provided 20.8% diversity. The recent CRISPR PCR target SP_O26-E, which was previously identified only in stx2-positive O26:H11 human clinical strains, was identified in 96.4% (161/167 [95% confidence interval, 99.2 to 93.6%]) of the stx-negative AEEC O26:H11 bovine fecal strains. This supports that these stx-negative strains may have previously contained a prophage carrying stx or could acquire this prophage, thus possibly giving them the potential to become pathogenic to humans. These results show that investigation of specific genetic markers may further elucidate our understanding of the genetic diversity of AEEC O26 strains in bovine feces.
Project description:Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) strains comprise a subgroup of Shiga-toxin (Stx)-producing E. coli (STEC) and are characterized by a few serotypes. Among these, seven priority STEC serotypes (O26:H11, O45:H2, O103:H2, O111:H8, O121:H19, O145:H28, and O157:H7) are most frequently implicated in severe clinical illness worldwide. Currently, standard methods using stx, eae, and O-serogroup-specific gene sequences for detecting the top 7 EHEC serotypes bear the disadvantage that these genes can be found in non-EHEC strains as well. Here, we explored the suitability of ureD, espV, espK, espN, Z2098, and espM1 genes and combinations thereof as candidates for a more targeted EHEC screening assay. For a very large panel of E. coli strains (n = 1,100), which comprised EHEC (n = 340), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) (n = 392), STEC (n = 193), and apathogenic strains (n = 175), we showed that these genetic markers were more prevalent in EHEC (67.1% to 92.4%) than in EPEC (13.3% to 45.2%), STEC (0.5% to 3.6%), and apathogenic E. coli strains (0 to 2.9%). It is noteworthy that 38.5% of the EPEC strains that tested positive for at least one of these genetic markers belonged to the top 7 EHEC serotypes, suggesting that such isolates might be Stx-negative derivatives of EHEC. The associations of espK with either espV, ureD, or Z2098 were the best combinations for more specific and sensitive detection of the top 7 EHEC strains, allowing detection of 99.3% to 100% of these strains. In addition, detection of 93.7% of the EHEC strains belonging to other serotypes than the top 7 offers a possibility for identifying new emerging EHEC strains.
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:In this study, 75 Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains originating from foods (n = 73) and drinking water (n = 2) were analyzed for their stx genotype, as well as for further chromosome-, phage-, and plasmid-encoded virulence factors. A broad spectrum of stx genes was detected. Fifty-three strains (70.7%) contained stx(2) or stx(2) variants, including stx(2d), mucus-activatable stx(2d), stx(2e), and stx(2g). Seven strains (9.3%) harbored stx(1) or stx(1c), and 15 strains (20.0%) carried both stx(2) and/or stx(2) variants and stx(1) or stx(1c). Beside stx, the most abundant accessory virulence markers in STEC food isolates were iha (57.3%), ehxA (40.0%), espP (28.0%), and subAB (25.3%). Only four strains were eae positive; three of these belonged to the serogroups O26, O103, and O157 and contained a typical enterohemorrhagic E. coli virulence spectrum. The results of this study show that a number of STEC strains that occur in foods appear to be pathogenic for humans, based on their virulence profiles. Analysis of stx subtypes and detection of additional virulence factors in eae-negative strains may help to better assess the risk of such strains for causing human infection.
Project description:Non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are foodborne pathogens of growing concern worldwide that have been associated with several recent multistate and multinational outbreaks of foodborne illness. Rapid and sensitive molecular-based bacterial strain discrimination methods are critical for timely outbreak identification and contaminated food source traceback. One such method, multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA), is being used with increasing frequency in foodborne illness outbreak investigations to augment the current gold standard bacterial subtyping technique, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The objective of this study was to develop a MLVA assay for intra- and inter-serogroup discrimination of six major non-O157 STEC serogroups-O26, O111, O103, O121, O45, and O145-and perform a preliminary internal validation of the method on a limited number of clinical isolates. The resultant MLVA scheme consists of ten variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) loci amplified in three multiplex PCR reactions. Sixty-five unique MLVA types were obtained among 84 clinical non-O157 STEC strains comprised of geographically diverse sporadic and outbreak related isolates. Compared to PFGE, the developed MLVA scheme allowed similar discrimination among serogroups O26, O111, O103, and O121 but not among O145 and O45. To more fully compare the discriminatory power of this preliminary MLVA method to PFGE and to determine its epidemiological congruence, a thorough internal and external validation needs to be performed on a carefully selected large panel of strains, including multiple isolates from single outbreaks.