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1.  Identification of a divergent O-acetyltransferase gene oac1b from Shigella flexneri serotype 1b strains 
Shigella flexneri is a leading cause of bacterial dysentery in developing countries. Among the 15 known serotypes, four (1b, 3a, 3b and 4b) contain a group 6 epitope due to an acetyl group connected to the O-2 position of rhamnose III on the tetrasaccharide structure of the lipopolysaccharide. O-acetyltransferase encoded by a bacteriophage, Sf6, mediates the acetylation reaction. We found that the oac gene in serotype 1b strains was very different from that in serotypes 3a, 3b and 4b strains and is herein after referred to as oac1b which shares with oac 88%–89% identity at the DNA level and 85% identity at the protein level. Considering that S. flexneri strains of serotypes 1–5 share a recent common ancestry, the divergent oac1b is more likely to have been obtained from outside S. flexneri than to have undergone rapid divergence from the oac gene in the other serotypes (3a, 3b and 4b) within S. flexneri. The cloned oac1b gene was found to perform the same acetylation function as oac. Analysis of the genomic regions flanking oac1b showed that it was present in a prophage on the chromosome and the organizational structure is different from that of phage Sf6. Additionally, phage conversion assay showed that serotype 1b cannot be generated by infecting serotype 1a strains with Sf6. We conclude that oac1b was carried by a non-Sf6 phage and is uniquely present in serotype 1b.
PMCID: PMC3630932
O-acetyltransferase; serotype; serotype 1b; Shigella flexneri
2.  Development of a Multiplex PCR Assay Targeting O-Antigen Modification Genes for Molecular Serotyping of Shigella flexneri ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(11):3766-3770.
Shigella flexneri is the major Shigella species that causes diarrheal disease in developing countries. It is further subdivided into 15 serotypes based on O-antigen structure. Serotyping of S. flexneri is important for epidemiological purposes. In this study, we developed a multiplex PCR assay targeting the O-antigen synthesis gene wzx and the O-antigen modification genes gtrI, gtrIC, gtrII, oac, gtrIV, gtrV, and gtrX for molecular serotyping of S. flexneri. The multiplex PCR assay contained eight sets of specific PCRs in a single tube and can identify 14 of the 15 serotypes (the exception being serotype Xv) of S. flexneri recognized thus far. A nearly perfect concordance (97.8%) between multiplex PCR assay and slide agglutination was observed when 358 S. flexneri strains of various serotypes were analyzed, except that 8 strains were carrying additional cryptic and/or defective serotype-specific genes. The multiplex PCR assay provides a rapid and specific method for the serotype identification of S. flexneri.
PMCID: PMC3209073  PMID: 21880974
3.  Isolation, characterization and comparative genomics of bacteriophage SfIV: a novel serotype converting phage from Shigella flexneri 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:677.
Shigella flexneri is the major cause of shigellosis in the developing countries. The O-antigen component of the lipopolysaccharide is one of the key virulence determinants required for the pathogenesis of S. flexneri. The glucosyltransferase and/or acetyltransferase genes responsible for the modification of the O-antigen are encoded by temperate serotype converting bacteriophage present in the S. flexneri genome. Several serotype converting phages have previously been isolated and characterized, however, attempts to isolate a serotype converting phage which encodes the modification genes of serotypes 4a strain have not been successful.
In this study, a novel temperate serotype converting bacteriophage SfIV was isolated. Lysogenisation of phage SfIV converted serotype Y strain to serotype 4a. Electron microscopy indicated that SfIV belongs to Myoviridae family. The 39,758 bp genome of phage SfIV encompasses 54 open reading frames (orfs). Protein level comparison of SfIV with other serotype converting phages of S. flexneri revealed that SfIV is similar to phage SfII and SfV. The comparative analysis also revealed that SfIV phage contained five proteins which were not found in any other phages of S. flexneri. These proteins were: a tail fiber assembly protein, two hypothetical proteins with no clear function, and two other unknown proteins which were encoded by orfs present on a moron, that presumably got introduced in SfIV genome from another species via a transposon. These unique proteins of SfIV may play a role in the pathogenesis of the host.
This study reports the isolation and complete genome sequence analysis of bacteriophage SfIV. The SfIV phage has a host range significantly different from the other phages of Shigella. Comparative genome analysis identified several proteins unique to SfIV, which may potentially be involved in the survival and pathogenesis of its host. These findings will further our understanding on the evolution of these phages, and will also facilitate studies on development of new phage vectors and therapeutic agents to control infections caused by S. flexneri.
PMCID: PMC3851460  PMID: 24090466
Shigella flexneri; Bacteriophage; O-antigen modification; Serotype conversion
4.  Identification and Characterization of a Novel Shigella flexneri Serotype Yv in China 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70238.
Shigella flexneri is the major cause of bacterial shigellosis in developing countries. S. flexneri is divided into at least 19 serotypes, the majority of which are modifications of the same basic O-antigen by glucosylation and/or O-acetylation of its sugar residues by phage encoded serotype-converting genes. Recently, a plasmid encoded phosphoethanolamine (PEtN) modification of the O-antigen has been reported, which is responsible for the presence of the MASF IV-1 determinant and results in conversion of traditional serotypes X, 4a and Y to novel serotypes Xv, 4av and Yv, respectively. In this study, we characterized 19 serotype Yv strains isolated in China. A variant of the O-antigen phosphoethanolamine transferase gene opt (formerly called lpt-O) carried by a pSFxv_2-like plasmid was found in serotype Yv strains, which specifies the phosphorylation pattern on the O-antigen of this serotype. For the majority of the O-antigen units, the PEtN modification occurs on RhaIII, while for a minority, modifications occur on both RhaII and RhaIII. Serotype-specific gene detection and PFGE analysis suggested that these serotype Yv isolates were originated from serotypes Y, Xv and 2a by acquisition of an opt-carrying plasmid and/or inactivation of serotype-specific gene gtrII or gtrX. These data, combined with those of serotypes Xv and 4av reported earlier, demonstrate that the plasmid-encoded PEtN modification is an important serotype conversion mechanism in S. flexneri, in addition to glucosylation and O-acetylation.
PMCID: PMC3728103  PMID: 23936172
5.  A Novel Plasmid-Encoded Serotype Conversion Mechanism through Addition of Phosphoethanolamine to the O-Antigen of Shigella flexneri 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46095.
Shigella flexneri is the major pathogen causing bacillary dysentery in developing countries. S. flexneri is divided into at least 16 serotypes based on the combination of antigenic determinants present in the O-antigen. All the serotypes (except for serotype 6) share a basic O-unit containing one N-acetyl-d-glucosamine and three l-rhamnose residues, whereas differences between the serotypes are conferred by phage-encoded glucosylation and/or O-acetylation. Serotype Xv is a newly emerged and the most prevalent serotype in China, which can agglutinate with both MASF IV-1 and 7,8 monoclonal antibodies. The factor responsible for the presence of MASF IV-1 (E1037) epitope has not yet been identified. In this study, we analyzed the LPS structure of serotype Xv strains and found that the MASF IV-1 positive phenotype depends on an O-antigen modification with a phosphoethanolamine (PEtN) group attached at position 3 of one of the rhamnose residues. A plasmid carried gene, lpt-O (LPS phosphoethanolamine transferase for O–antigen), mediates the addition of PEtN for serotype Xv and other MASF IV-1 positive strains. These findings reveal a novel serotype conversion mechanism in S. flexneri and show the necessity of further extension of the serotype classification scheme recognizing the MASF IV-1 positive strains as distinctive subtypes.
PMCID: PMC3458804  PMID: 23049947
6.  mxiA of Shigella flexneri 2a, which facilitates export of invasion plasmid antigens, encodes a homolog of the low-calcium-response protein, LcrD, of Yersinia pestis. 
Infection and Immunity  1992;60(8):3287-3295.
The plasmid-encoded invasion plasmid antigen (Ipa) export accessory locus of Shigella flexneri 2a, mxiA, was cloned, and the complete DNA sequence of the gene was determined. The mixA open reading frame was found to encode a polypeptide of 74.03 kDa with a pI of 5.02. A hydropathy analysis of the predicted protein revealed a hydrophilic C terminus and an extremely hydrophobic N terminus without a cleavable signal sequence but with several potential membrane-spanning regions. While a homology search did not reveal any significant relatedness of the mxiA DNA sequence to any known bacterial gene sequences, the derived amino acid sequence of MxiA was found to be highly homologous (68%) to the sequence of the protein encoded by the low-calcium-response locus, lcrD, of Yersinia pestis. The lcrD encodes an inner membrane regulatory protein that has an N-terminal membrane anchor and that is implicated in facilitating the export of Y. pestis outer membrane proteins (G. V. Plano, S. S. Barve, and S. C. Straley, J. Bacteriol. 173:7293-7303, 1991). Congo red binding, HeLa cell invasion, and Ipa excretion were restored in two avirulent mxiA fusion mutants when they were transformed with a cloned copy of the mxiA gene. Furthermore, the expression of the cloned mxiA gene was independent of any vector-specified promoter, suggesting that the transcription of mxiA is driven by its own promoter in this clone. In contrast, the overexpression of mxiA that resulted when it was placed under the control of the lac promoter was found to be deleterious in Escherichia coli. We conclude that mxiA is a homolog of the Y. pestis lcrD locus and may function similarly in S. flexneri, either by directly affecting the excretion of virulence factors or by regulating the expression of export accessory genes.
PMCID: PMC257313  PMID: 1639496
7.  Strategy for Cross-Protection among Shigella flexneri Serotypes 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(2):782-788.
Based upon the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) structure and antigenicity of Shigella group B, a strategy for broad cross-protection against 14 Shigella flexneri serotypes was designed. This strategy involves the use of two S. flexneri serotypes (2a and 3a), which together bear the all of the major antigenic group factors of this group. The novel attenuated strains used in these studies were S. flexneri 2a strain CVD 1207 (ΔguaB-A ΔvirG Δset1 Δsen) and S. flexneri 3a strain CVD 1211 (ΔguaB-A ΔvirG Δsen). Guinea pigs were immunized with an equal mixture of these strains and later challenged (Sereny test) with a wild-type S. flexneri serotype 1a, 1b, 2b, 4b, 5b, Y, or 6 strain of demonstrated virulence in the same model. Guinea pigs that were immunized with these two vaccine strains produced serum and mucosal antibodies that cross-reacted with all the S. flexneri serotypes tested (except of S. flexneri serotype 6) as assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, immunoblotting, and slide agglutination. Furthermore, the combination vaccine conferred significant protection against challenge with S. flexneri serotypes 1b, 2b, 5b, and Y but not with serotypes 1a, 4b, or (as predicted) 6.
PMCID: PMC96386  PMID: 9916090
8.  Isolation and genomic characterization of SfI, a serotype-converting bacteriophage of Shigella flexneri 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:39.
All Shigella flexneri serotypes except serotype 6 share a common O-antigen tetrasaccharide backbone and nearly all variations between serotypes are due to glucosyl and/or O-acetyl modifications of the common O unit mediated by glycosyltransferases encoded by serotype-converting bacteriophages. Several S. flexneri serotype-converting phages including SfV, SfX, Sf6 and SfII have been isolated and characterized. However, S. flexneri serotype-converting phage SfI which encodes a type I modification of serotype 1 (1a, 1b, 1c and 1d) had not yet been characterized.
The SfI phage was induced and purified from a S. flexneri serotype 1a clinical strain 019. Electron microscopy showed that the SfI phage has a hexagonal head and a long contractile tail, characteristic of the members of Myoviridae family. SfI can convert serotype Y to serotype 1a and serotype X to serotype 1d, but cannot convert 10 other S. flexneri serotypes (1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, Xv) tested, suggesting that SfI has a narrow host range. Similar to other S. flexneri serotype-converting phages, SfI integrates into the tRNA-thrW gene adjacent to proA of the host chromosome when lysogenized. The complete sequence of the SfI genome was 38,389 bp, encoding 66 open reading frames and two tRNA genes. Phage SfI shares significant homology with S. flexneri phage SfV, Escherichia coli prophage e14 and lambda, and is classified into the lambdoid phage family. SfI was found to use a cos mechanism for DNA packaging similar to that of phage SfV.
SfI contains features of lambdoid phages and is closely related to S. flexneri phage SfV, E. coli prophage e14 and lambda. The characterization of SfI enhances our understanding of serotype conversion of S. flexneri.
PMCID: PMC3636060  PMID: 23414301
9.  Emergence of a New Multidrug-Resistant Serotype X Variant in an Epidemic Clone of Shigella flexneri▿ †  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;48(2):419-426.
Shigella spp. are the causative agent of shigellosis with Shigella flexneri serotype 2a being the most prevalent in developing countries. Epidemiological surveillance in China found that a new serotype of S. flexneri appeared in 2001 and replaced serotype 2a in 2003 as the most prevalent serotype in Henan Province. The new serotype also became the dominant serotype in 7 of the 10 other provinces under surveillance in China by 2007. The serotype was identified as a variant of serotype X. It differs from serotype X by agglutination to the monovalent anti-IV type antiserum and the group antigen-specific monoclonal antibody MASF IV-I. Genome sequencing of a serotype X variant isolate, 2002017, showed that it acquired a Shigella serotype conversion island, also as an SfX bacteriophage, containing gtr genes for type X-specific glucosylation. Multilocus sequence typing of 15 genes from 37 serotype X variant isolates and 69 isolates of eight other serotypes, 1a, 2a, 2b, 3a, 4a, 5b, X, and Y, found that all belong to a new sequence type (ST), ST91. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis revealed 154 pulse types with 655 S. flexneri isolates analyzed and identified 57 serotype switching events. The data suggest that S. flexneri epidemics in China have been caused by a single epidemic clone, ST91, with frequent serotype switching to evade infection-induced immunity to serotypes to which the population was exposed previously. The clone has also acquired resistance to multiple antibiotics. These findings underscore the challenges to the current vaccine development and control strategies for shigellosis.
PMCID: PMC2815595  PMID: 19955273
10.  Draft genome sequences of the type strains of Shigella flexneri held at Public Health England: comparison of classical phenotypic and novel molecular assays with whole genome sequence 
Gut Pathogens  2014;6:7.
Public Health England (PHE) holds a collection of Shigella flexneri Type strains isolated between 1949 and 1972 representing 15 established serotypes and one provisional type, E1037. In this study, the genomes of all 16 PHE Type strains were sequenced using the Illumina HiSeq platform. The relationship between core genome phylogeny and serotype was examined.
The most common target gene for the detection of Shigella species in clinical PCR assays, ipaH, was detected in all genomes. The type-specific target genes were correctly identified in each genome sequence. In contrast to the S. flexneri in serotype 5 strain described by Sun et al. (2012), the two PHE serotype 5 Type strains possessed an additional oac gene and were differentiated by the presence (serotype 5b) or absence (serotype 5a) of gtrX. The somatic antigen structure and phylogenetic relationship were broadly congruent for strains expressing serotype specific antigens III, IV and V, but not for those expressing I and II. The whole genome phylogenies of the 15 isolates sequenced showed that the serotype 6 Type Strain was phylogenetically distinct from the other S. flexneri serotypes sequenced. The provisional serotype E1037 fell within the serotype 4 clade, being most closely related to the Serotype 4a Type Strain.
The S. flexneri genome sequences were used to evaluate phylogenetic relationships between Type strains and validate genotypic and phenotypic assays. The analysis confirmed that the PHE S. flexneri Type strains are phenotypically and genotypically distinct. Novel variants will continue to be added to this archive.
PMCID: PMC3972513  PMID: 24684748
Shigella flexneri type strains; Next generation sequencing technology; Molecular serotyping
11.  Presence of specific immunoglobulin A-secreting cells in peripheral blood after natural infection with Shigella sonnei. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1992;30(8):2165-2168.
The appearance of antigen-specific immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibody-secreting cells (ASCs) following natural infection with Shigella sonnei during a common-source outbreak caused by this organism was evaluated in a modified enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISPOT). A mean IgA ASC value of 2,131.6/10(6) cells against homologous S. sonnei lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was detected in blood samples obtained from patients with bacteriologically proven S. sonnei shigellosis 5 and 10 days after the onset of disease. In the same blood samples, the level of ASC measured against heterologous antigen (Shigella flexneri serotype 2a LPS) was significantly lower than that of the homologous antigen (mean value, 33.12/10(6) cells). Furthermore, the mean number of activated B cells that secreted anti-S. sonnei LPS antibodies was significantly higher among patients with S. sonnei shigellosis than it was among patients with non-Shigella diarrhea (2.5/10(6) cells; standard error, 1.0) and healthy subjects (5.1/10(6) cells; standard error, 2.3) (P less than 0.05). The anti-LPS IgA ASC activity was easily detected within 5 days of the onset of disease, a point at which the levels of anti-S. sonnei LPS IgG and even IgA antibodies were hardly detectable in serum.
PMCID: PMC265463  PMID: 1500527
12.  Genome dynamics and diversity of Shigella species, the etiologic agents of bacillary dysentery 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(19):6445-6458.
The Shigella bacteria cause bacillary dysentery, which remains a significant threat to public health. The genus status and species classification appear no longer valid, as compelling evidence indicates that Shigella, as well as enteroinvasive Escherichia coli, are derived from multiple origins of E.coli and form a single pathovar. Nevertheless, Shigella dysenteriae serotype 1 causes deadly epidemics but Shigella boydii is restricted to the Indian subcontinent, while Shigella flexneri and Shigella sonnei are prevalent in developing and developed countries respectively. To begin to explain these distinctive epidemiological and pathological features at the genome level, we have carried out comparative genomics on four representative strains. Each of the Shigella genomes includes a virulence plasmid that encodes conserved primary virulence determinants. The Shigella chromosomes share most of their genes with that of E.coli K12 strain MG1655, but each has over 200 pseudogenes, 300∼700 copies of insertion sequence (IS) elements, and numerous deletions, insertions, translocations and inversions. There is extensive diversity of putative virulence genes, mostly acquired via bacteriophage-mediated lateral gene transfer. Hence, via convergent evolution involving gain and loss of functions, through bacteriophage-mediated gene acquisition, IS-mediated DNA rearrangements and formation of pseudogenes, the Shigella spp. became highly specific human pathogens with variable epidemiological and pathological features.
PMCID: PMC1278947  PMID: 16275786
13.  Antibody and cytokine responses in a mouse pulmonary model of Shigella flexneri serotype 2a infection. 
Infection and Immunity  1995;63(5):1947-1954.
A murine pulmonary model was used to study the mucosal immune response to Shigella flexneri serotype 2a infection. Inoculation of BALB/cJ mice with shigellae via the intranasal route resulted in bacterial invasion of bronchial and alveolar epithelia with concomitant development of acute suppurative bronchiolitis and subsequent development of lethal pneumonia. The pathology of pulmonary lesions resembled the colitis that characterizes shigellosis in humans and primates. Significant protection against a lethal dose of S. flexneri 2a was observed in mice previously infected with two sublethal doses of the homologous strain. Immunity against lethal challenge was associated with decreased bacterial invasion of the mucosal epithelium. Over the course of two sublethal challenges, which constituted primary and secondary immunizations, mice developed pulmonary and serum immunoglobulin G and A antibody recognizing both lipopolysaccharide and invasion plasmid antigens IpaB and IpaC. Immune mice and naive control mice differed in lung lavage cytokine levels following lethal challenge. Immune mice developed significantly elevated levels of pulmonary gamma interferon within 6 h of challenge, while naive control mice developed elevated levels of this cytokine later during the initial 24-h period. Both groups had elevated levels of gamma interferon during the 24- to 48-h period of infection. Both groups also had elevated levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha within 6 h of challenge, but the control mice had significantly higher levels at the 48- and 72-h time points. Elevated levels of interleukin-4 were observed only in immunized mice. This cytokine appeared within 24 h and receded between 48 and 72 h. Fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis of lung parenchymal cells showed that both groups experienced an initial influx of monocytes, but the proportion of this cell type began to recede in immunized mice after 48 h of infection, while peak levels were maintained in the control animals. These studies suggest that elements of local B lymphocyte activity, as well as Th1 and Th2 lymphocyte activity, may contribute to the survival of immune mice after intranasal challenge with shigellae.
PMCID: PMC173248  PMID: 7729907
14.  Acetylation of O-specific lipopolysaccharides from Shigella flexneri 3a and 2a occurs in Escherichia coli K-12 carrying cloned S. flexneri 3a and 2a rfb genes. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1992;174(23):7500-7508.
Most of the Shigella flexneri O-specific serotypes result from O-acetyl and/or glucosyl groups added to a common O-repeating unit of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) molecule. The genes involved in acetylation and/or glucosylation of S. flexneri LPS are physically located on lysogenic bacteriophages, whereas the rfb cluster contains the biosynthesis genes for the common O-repeating unit (D.A.R. Simmons and E. Romanowska, J. Med. Microbiol. 23:289-302, 1987). Using a cosmid cloning strategy, we have cloned the rfb regions from S. flexneri 3a and 2a. Escherichia coli K-12 containing plasmids pYS1-5 (derived from S. flexneri 3a) and pEY5 (derived from S. flexneri 2a) expressed O-specific LPS which reacted immunologically with S. flexneri polyvalent O antiserum. However, O-specific LPS expressed in E. coli K-12 also reacted with group 6 antiserum, indicating the presence of O-acetyl groups attached to one of the rhamnose components of the O-repeating unit. This was confirmed by measuring the amounts of acetate released from purified LPS samples and also by the chemical removal of O-acetyl groups, which abolished group 6 reactivity. The O-acetylation phenotype was absent in an E. coli strain with an sbcB-his-rfb chromosomal deletion and could be restored upon conjugation of F' 129, which carries sequences corresponding to a portion of the deleted region. Our data demonstrate that E. coli K-12 strains possess a novel locus which directs the O acetylation of LPS and is located in the sbcB-rfb region of the chromosomal map.
PMCID: PMC207459  PMID: 1280255
15.  Transient Suppression of Shigella flexneri Type 3 Secretion by a Protective O-Antigen-Specific Monoclonal IgA 
mBio  2011;2(3):e00042-11.
Mucosal immunity to the enteric pathogen Shigella flexneri is mediated by secretory IgA (S-IgA) antibodies directed against the O-antigen (O-Ag) side chain of lipopolysaccharide. While secretory antibodies against the O-Ag are known to prevent bacterial invasion of the intestinal epithelium, the mechanisms by which this occurs are not fully understood. In this study, we report that the binding of a murine monoclonal IgA (IgAC5) to the O-Ag of S. flexneri serotype 5a suppresses activity of the type 3 secretion (T3S) system, which is necessary for S. flexneri to gain entry into intestinal epithelial cells. IgAC5’s effects on the T3S were rapid (5 to 15 min) and were coincident with a partial reduction in the bacterial membrane potential and a decrease in intracellular ATP levels. Activity of the T3S system returned to normal levels 45 to 90 min following antibody treatment, demonstrating that IgAC5’s effects were transient. Nonetheless, these data suggest a model in which the association of IgA with the O-Ag of S. flexneri partially de-energizes the T3S system and temporarily renders the bacterium incapable of invading intestinal epithelial cells.
Secretory IgA (S-IgA) serves as the first line of defense against enteric infections. However, despite its well-recognized role in mucosal immunity, relatively little is known at the molecular level about how this class of antibody functions to prevent pathogenic bacteria from penetrating the epithelial barrier. It is generally assumed that S-IgA functions primarily by “immune exclusion,” a phenomenon in which the antibody binds to microbial surface antigens and thereby promotes bacterial agglutination, entrapment in mucus, and physical clearance from the gastrointestinal tract via peristalsis. The results of the present study suggest that in addition to serving as a physical barrier, S-IgA may have a direct impact on the ability of microbial pathogens to secrete virulence factors required for invasion of intestinal epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3101778  PMID: 21610121
Journal of Bacteriology  1964;88(3):682-689.
Schneider, Herman (Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, D.C.), and Stanley Falkow. Characterization of an Hfr strain of Shigella flexneri. J. Bacteriol. 88:682–689. 1964.—A Hfr Shigella flexneri, strain 69, was obtained by terminal marker selection in a cross between Hfr Escherichia coli and S. flexneri. The chromosome of this Hfr Shigella bears gross homology to the E. coli chromosome: it can conjugate with both Shigella and E. coli; its order of gene transmission is the same as E. coli; and interrupted matings show that distance between gene loci is the same as for E. coli. The kinetics of transfer of the pro+, thr+ + leu+, and arg+ loci by Hfr S. flexneri differ from Hfr E. coli, and may indicate that function of the sex factor, F, derived from E. coli, is modified when integrated into the Shigella chromosome.
PMCID: PMC277366  PMID: 14208507
17.  Dipstick for Rapid Diagnosis of Shigella flexneri 2a in Stool 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(4):e361.
Shigellosis or bacillary dysentery, an acute bloody diarrhoea, is a major public health burden in developing countries. In the absence of prompt and appropriate treatment, the infection is often fatal, particularly in young malnourished children. Here, we describe a new diagnostic test for rapid detection, in stool, at the bedside of patients, of Shigella flexneri 2a, the most predominant agent of the endemic form of the disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The test is based on the detection of S.flexneri 2a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) using serotype 2a-specific monoclonal antibodies coupled to gold particles and displayed on one-step immunochromatographic dipstick. A concentration as low as 20 ng/ml of LPS is detected in distilled water and in reconstituted stools in under 15 minutes. The threshold of detection corresponds to a concentration of 5×107 CFU/ml of S. flexneri 2a, which provides an unequivocal positive reaction in three minutes in distilled water and reconstituted stools. The specificity is 100% when tested with a battery of Shigella and unrelated strains, in culture. When tested in Vietnam, on clinical samples, the specificity and sensitivity were 99.2 and 91.5%, respectively. A decrease of the sensitivity during the evaluation on stool samples was observed after five weeks at room temperature and was due to moistening of the dipsticks caused by the humidity of the air during the fifth week of the evaluation. This drawback is now overcome by improving the packaging and providing dipsticks individually wrapped in waterproof bags.
This simple dipstick-bases test represents a powerful tool for case management and epidemiological surveys.
PMCID: PMC1849889  PMID: 17440606
18.  Specificity of monoclonal antibodies elicited by mucosal infection of BALB/c mice with virulent Shigella flexneri 2a. 
Protective immunity against shigellosis is thought to be determined by the O-antigen side chains of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) molecule. To study possible common protective epitopes, monoclonal antibodies reacting with Shigella flexneri 2a LPS were generated from BALB/c mice infected ocularly with the virulent serotype 2a strain S. flexneri 2457T and tested against a panel of S. flexneri LPSs by enzyme-linked immunosorbent and immunoblot assays. Four monoclonal antibodies were identified, all of which showed restricted specificity patterns. Three different patterns of reactivity to LPS possessing the 3,4 group antigen were seen: (i) 2a only, (ii) 2a and 5a, and (iii) 2a, 4a, 5a, and Y. These results have implications for designing a Shigella vaccine that will be protective against related serotypes. Electron microscopy studies showed that the monoclonal antibodies bind to the bacterial surface in a patchy pattern, suggesting their potential use for examining the LPS distribution on the surface of the bacteria.
PMCID: PMC170411  PMID: 8877140
19.  Genesis of a novel Shigella flexneri serotype by sequential infection of serotype-converting bacteriophages SfX and SfI 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:269.
Shigella flexneri is the major pathogen causing bacillary dysentery. Fifteen serotypes have been recognized up to now. The genesis of new S. flexneri serotypes is commonly mediated by serotype-converting bacteriophages. Untypeable or novel serotypes from natural infections had been reported worldwide but have not been generated in laboratory.
A new S. flexneri serotype-serotype 1 d was generated when a S. flexneri serotype Y strain (native LPS) was sequentially infected with 2 serotype-converting bacteriophages, SfX first and then SfI. The new serotype 1 d strain agglutinated with both serotype X-specific anti-7;8 grouping serum and serotype 1a-specific anti- I typing serum, and differed from subserotypes 1a, 1b and 1c. Twenty four S. flexneri clinical isolates of serotype X were all converted to serotype 1 d by infection with phage SfI. PCR and sequencing revealed that SfI and SfX were integrated in tandem into the proA-yaiC region of the host chromosome.
These findings suggest a new S. flexneri serotype could be created in nature. Such a conversion may be constrained by susceptibility of a strain to infection by a given serotype-converting bacteriophage. This finding has significant implications in the emergence of new S. flexneri serotypes in nature.
PMCID: PMC3306764  PMID: 22208551
20.  Genome sequence of Shigella flexneri 2a: insights into pathogenicity through comparison with genomes of Escherichia coli K12 and O157 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(20):4432-4441.
We have sequenced the genome of Shigella flexneri serotype 2a, the most prevalent species and serotype that causes bacillary dysentery or shigellosis in man. The whole genome is composed of a 4 607 203 bp chromosome and a 221 618 bp virulence plasmid, designated pCP301. While the plasmid shows minor divergence from that sequenced in serotype 5a, striking characteristics of the chromosome have been revealed. The S.flexneri chromosome has, astonishingly, 314 IS elements, more than 7-fold over those possessed by its close relatives, the non-pathogenic K12 strain and enterohemorrhagic O157:H7 strain of Escherichia coli. There are 13 translocations and inversions compared with the E.coli sequences, all involve a segment larger than 5 kb, and most are associated with deletions or acquired DNA sequences, of which several are likely to be bacteriophage-transmitted pathogenicity islands. Furthermore, S.flexneri, resembling another human-restricted enteric pathogen, Salmonella typhi, also has hundreds of pseudogenes compared with the E.coli strains. All of these could be subjected to investigations towards novel preventative and treatment strategies against shigellosis.
PMCID: PMC137130  PMID: 12384590
21.  Monoclonal antibodies specific for O-antigenic polysaccharides of Shigella flexneri: clones binding to II, II:3,4, and 7,8 epitopes. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1983;18(5):1183-1189.
Hybrid cells producing monoclonal antibodies against the O-antigens of Shigella flexneri were obtained by polyethylene glycol-mediated fusion of myeloma cells and lymphocytes from BALB/c mice immunized with whole heat-killed S. flexneri bacteria of serotypes 2a and 2b. Clones were selected for their binding specificity to structurally defined S. flexneri lipopolysaccharides (LPS). The following three groups were identified as recognizing three different epitopes: monoclonal antibodies binding to (i) S. flexneri LPS with the II:3,4 antigens, (ii) S. flexneri LPS with the II:3,4 antigens and the II:7,8 antigens, and (iii) S. flexneri LPS with the 7,8 group antigen only. Of cloned and characterized antibodies, more than 90% had either the mu or gamma 3 heavy chain and 98% had the kappa light chain. The exquisite specificity of each monoclonal antibody preparation was in complete contrast to the polyclonal specificities seen in sera from immunized rabbits. Even absorbed rabbit S. flexneri typing sera contained antibodies reacting with several different LPS, i.e., they were not type antigen specific. Ascites from immunoglobulin G monoclonal antibody preparations representing the three different specificities were used for sensitizing Staphylococcus aureus Cowan 1 bacteria and were used in coagglutination. In testing 211 clinical isolates of all different serotypes of S. flexneri, the reagents were shown to be sensitive and specific in correctly identifying all S. flexneri II and 7,8 antigen-containing strains with no false positives. Two isolated immunoglobulin M antibody clones specific for the II:3,4 and 7,8 antigens were used as successfully for identification by direct slide agglutination. These results suggest that the monoclonal reagents are superior to conventional typing antisera.
PMCID: PMC272864  PMID: 6196376
22.  Serotype 1a O-Antigen Modification: Molecular Characterization of the Genes Involved and Their Novel Organization in the Shigella flexneri Chromosome 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(15):4711-4718.
The factors responsible for serotype 1a O-antigen modification in Shigella flexneri were localized to a 5.8-kb chromosomal HindIII fragment of serotype 1a strain Y53. The entire 5.8-kb fragment and regions up- and downstream of it (10.6-kb total) were sequenced. A putative three-gene operon, which showed homology with other serotype conversion genes, was identified and shown to confer serotype 1a O-antigen modification. The serotype conversion genes were flanked on either side by phage DNA. Multiple insertion sequence (IS) elements were located within and upstream of the phage DNA in a composite transposon-like structure. Host DNA homologous to the dsdC and the thrW proA genes was located upstream of the IS elements and downstream of the phage DNA, respectively. The sequence analysis indicates that the organization of the 10.6-kb region of the Y53 chromosome is unique and suggests that the serotype conversion genes were originally brought into the host by a bacteriophage. Several features of this region are also characteristic of pathogenicity islands.
PMCID: PMC103612  PMID: 10419979
23.  Prevalence and Characterization of Human Shigella Infections in Henan Province, China, in 2006 ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;49(1):232-242.
In 2006, 3,531 fecal samples were collected from patients with diarrhea in Henan Province, China. A total of 467 (13.2%) Shigella strains were isolated and serotyped. Seventy-one Shigella flexneri strains were characterized by MIC determination, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and detection of genes encoding cephalosporin resistance. Most infections were caused by S. flexneri variant X [IV:(7),8] (27.6%), S. sonnei (24.2%), and S. flexneri 2a (20.8%). However, large regional differences were observed. Significantly higher odds (2.0) of females compared to males were infected with S. flexneri 2a. Untypeable S. flexneri (−:6) isolates were absent among males, as were untypeable S. flexneri [I:(7),8] isolates among females. Patient ages ranged from 2 months to 82 years, with 231 subjects (49.7%) <5 years of age. Most of the patients were male (62.1% [n = 290]). Infections peaked in July; week 27 with 38 cases (8.1%). All of the 71 S. flexneri conferred resistance to nalidixic acid; in addition, 21% (n = 15) and 79% (n = 56) were high- and low-level resistant to ciprofloxacin, respectively. Six S. flexneri isolates {serotype 2b [II:7,(8)] and 2b [II:(3),4;7,(8)]} harbored the blaCTX-M-14 or blaCTX-M-15 gene. A total of 52 unique XbaI PFGE patterns were observed among the 71 S. flexneri isolates with 11 distinct PFGE clusters. This study revealed a high prevalence of shigellosis with geographical differences in the distribution of serotypes in the distribution of serotypes and also differences in comparisons by gender. A high frequency of resistance, including 100% resistance to ciprofloxacin and resistance to extended-spectrum cephalosporins, was observed. We detected several isolates exhibiting the same PFGE type and MIC profile, indicating multiple undetected outbreaks.
PMCID: PMC3020427  PMID: 21068291
24.  Immunogenicity and efficacy of oral or intranasal Shigella flexneri 2a and Shigella sonnei proteosome-lipopolysaccharide vaccines in animal models. 
Infection and Immunity  1993;61(6):2390-2395.
Immunity against shigellosis has been shown to correlate with the presence of antibodies specific for Shigella lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We here propose a new candidate vaccine for shigellosis composed of purified Shigella flexneri 2a or Shigella sonnei LPS hydrophobically complexed with group C type 2b Neisseria meningitidis outer membrane protein proteosomes. Immunization of mice either orally or intranasally with this complex induced specific homologous anti-LPS antibodies in both intestinal and respiratory secretions as well as in sera. Strong anamnestic responses were found after two or three immunizations. LPS alone, alkaline-detoxified LPS, or alkaline-detoxified LPS complexed with proteosomes was not effective. Oral or intranasal immunization of guinea pigs with two or more doses of this proteosome-LPS vaccine elicited homologous protection against Shigella keratoconjunctivitis (Serény test). These data demonstrate that proteosomes can be used as an effective mucosal vaccine delivery system and that orally or intranasally administered acellular vaccines can protect against Shigella infections.
PMCID: PMC280860  PMID: 8500877
25.  Molecular Epidemiology of Shigella flexneri in a Long-Stay Psychiatric Nursing Center during 2001 to 2003 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(3):1353-1360.
With six separate wards accommodating more than 1,600 patients, V Nursing Center (VNC) is a long-stay psychiatric nursing center in eastern Taiwan. During 2001 to 2003, 39 shigellosis cases occurred in VNC. Different from the notion that most cases of shigellosis are caused by Shigella sonnei, all except one of these cases were caused by S. flexneri, with the remaining one caused by an S. sonnei isolate. O-antigen serotyping showed that the 38 S. flexneri strains were of either type 1a (n = 20) or 4a (n = 18), two less prevalent serotypes in Taiwan. NotI-based pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analyses performed with 8 type 1a non-VNC strains and 9 type 4a non-VNC strains isolated from 1996 to 2003 for comparison divided the 28 type 1a strains and the 27 type 4a strains into 7 and 10 subtypes, designated subtypes P1A to P1G and subtypes P4A to P4J, respectively. Subtypes P1A and P4A, which appeared in three consecutive years in VNC as well as outside of VNC, are the most prevalent subtypes. Analyses of the relatedness of the VNC strains on the basis of the banding patterns grouped the type 1a and 4a strains into four and five clusters, respectively. All except one of the type 1a strains had 95% similarity, indicating that they had a common parent, whereas the type 4a strains had similarities that ranged from 77 to 93%, suggesting that they were of diverse origins. In two of the outbreaks, less related subtypes of the type 4a strains were found in the same VNC wards in consecutive years, suggesting the possible existence of different subtypes in VNC all the time. Antibiotic susceptibility testing showed that all except one of the S. flexneri strains were sensitive to at least seven antibiotics; the remaining isolate was sensitive to three antibiotics. The data from the latter tests should be helpful for selection of proper treatments for S. flexneri infections in Taiwan.
PMCID: PMC1081245  PMID: 15750107

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