Serotyping Escherichia coli is a cumbersome and complex procedure due to the existence of large numbers of O- and H-antigen types. It can also be unreliable, as many Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) strains isolated from fresh produce cannot be typed by serology or have only partial serotypes. The FDA E. coli identification (FDA-ECID) microarray, designed for characterizing pathogenic E. coli, contains a molecular serotyping component, which was evaluated here for its efficacy. Analysis of a panel of 75 reference E. coli strains showed that the array correctly identified the O and H types in 97% and 98% of the strains, respectively. Comparative analysis of 73 produce STEC strains showed that serology and the array identified 37% and 50% of the O types, respectively, and that the array was able to identify 16 strains that could not be O serotyped. Furthermore, the array identified the H types of 97% of the produce STEC strains compared to 65% by serology, including six strains that were mistyped by serology. These results show that the array is an effective alternative to serology in serotyping environmental E. coli isolates.
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli strains of serotype O113:H21 have caused severe human diseases, but they are unusual in that they do not produce adherence factors coded by the locus of enterocyte effacement. Here, a PCR microarray was used to characterize 65 O113:H21 strains isolated from the environment, food, and clinical infections from various countries. In comparison to the pathogenic strains that were implicated in hemolytic-uremic syndrome in Australia, there were no clear differences between the pathogens and the environmental strains with respect to the 41 genetic markers tested. Furthermore, all of the strains carried only Shiga toxin subtypes associated with human infections, suggesting that the environmental strains have the potential to cause disease. Most of the O113:H21 strains were closely related and belonged in the same clonal group (ST-223), but CRISPR analysis showed a great degree of genetic diversity among the O113:H21 strains.
The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive update on the biology, epidemiology, clinical features, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of canine cardio-pulmonary angiostrongylosis. This cardiopulmonary disease is caused by infection by the metastrongyloid nematode Angiostrongylus vasorum. The parasite has an indirect life cycle that involves at least two different hosts, gastropod molluscs (intermediate host) and canids (definitive host). A. vasorum represents a common and serious problem for dogs in areas of endemicity, and because of the expansion of its geographical boundaries to many areas where it was absent or uncommon; its global burden is escalating. A. vasorum infection in dogs can result in serious disorders with potentially fatal consequences. Diagnosis in the live patient depends on faecal analysis, PCR or blood testing for parasite antigens or anti-parasite antibodies. Identification of parasites in fluids and tissues is rarely possible except post mortem, while diagnostic imaging and clinical examinations do not lead to a definitive diagnosis. Treatment normally requires the administration of anthelmintic drugs, and sometimes supportive therapy for complications resulting from infection.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is an opportunistic pathogen in both humans and bovines. Epidemiological and phylogenetic analyses have found strains belonging to certain phylogenetic lineages to be more frequently associated with invasive newborn disease, asymptomatic maternal colonization, and subclinical bovine mastitis. Pilus structures in GBS facilitate colonization and invasion of host tissues and play a role in biofilm formation, though few large-scale studies have estimated the frequency and diversity of the three pilus islands (PIs) across diverse genotypes. Here, we examined the distribution of pilus islands (PI) 1, 2a and 2b among 295 GBS strains representing 73 multilocus sequence types (STs) belonging to eight clonal complexes. PCR-based RFLP was also used to evaluate variation in the genes encoding pilus backbone proteins of PI-2a and PI-2b.
All 295 strains harbored one of the PI-2 variants and most human-derived strains contained PI-1. Bovine-derived strains lacked PI-1 and possessed a unique PI-2b backbone protein allele. Neonatal strains more frequently had PI-1 and a PI-2 variant than maternal colonizing strains, and most CC-17 strains had PI-1 and PI-2b with a distinct backbone protein allele. Furthermore, we present evidence for the frequent gain and loss of genes encoding certain pilus types.
These data suggest that pilus combinations impact host specificity and disease presentation and that diversification often involves the loss or acquisition of PIs. Such findings have implications for the development of GBS vaccines that target the three pilus islands.
Streptococcus agalactiae; Pilus; MLST; Molecular epidemiology
Members of the Lactobacillus acidophilus complex are associated with functional foods and dietary supplements because of purported health benefits they impart to the consumer. Many characteristics of these microorganisms are reported to be strain specific. Therefore, proper strain typing is essential for safety assessment and product labeling, and also for monitoring strain integrity for industrial production purposes. Fifty-two strains of the L. acidophilus complex (L. acidophilus, L. amylovorus, L. crispatus, L. gallinarum, L. gasseri, and L. johnsonii) were genotyped using two established methods and compared to a novel multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme. PCR restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) analysis of the hsp60 gene with AluI and TaqI successfully clustered 51 of the 52 strains into the six species examined, but it lacked strain-level discrimination. Random amplified polymorphic DNA PCR (RAPD-PCR) targeting the M13 sequence resulted in highly discriminatory profiles but lacked reproducibility. In this study, an MLST scheme was developed using the conserved housekeeping genes fusA, gpmA, gyrA, gyrB, lepA, pyrG, and recA, which identified 40 sequence types that successfully clustered all of the strains into the six species. Analysis of the observed alleles suggests that nucleotide substitutions within five of the seven MLST loci have reached saturation, a finding that emphasizes the highly diverse nature of the L. acidophilus complex and our unconventional application of a typically intraspecies molecular typing tool. Our MLST results indicate that this method could be useful for characterization and strain discrimination of a multispecies complex, with the potential for taxonomic expansion to a broader collection of Lactobacillus species.
We report the draft genome sequence of Escherichia coli O1:H6 strain LR09, which was isolated from a wastewater treatment plant and displays high resistance to five fluoroquinolone antimicrobials. The assembled data determine that the strain clusters with E. coli phylogroup F and harbors a plasmid conferring resistance to a broad spectrum of antibiotics.
Variation in disease severity among E. coli O157:H7 infections may result from differential expression of Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2). Eleven strains belonging to four prominent phylogenetic clades, including clade 8 strains representative of the 2006 U.S. spinach outbreak, were examined for stx2 expression by real-time PCR and western blot analysis. Clade 8 strains were shown to overexpress stx2 basally, and following induction with ciprofloxacin when compared to strains from clades 1-3. Differences in stx2 expression generally correlated with Stx2 protein levels. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms identified in regions upstream of stx2AB in clade 8 strains were largely absent in non-clade 8 strains. This study concludes that stx2 overexpression is common to strains from clade 8 associated with hemolytic uremic syndrome, and describes SNPs which may affect stx2 expression and which could be useful in the genetic differentiation of highly-virulent strains.
Shiga toxin; E. coli O157:H7; Clade 8; Stx2; hemolytic uremic syndrome
Two technologies, involving DNA microarray and optical mapping, were used to quickly assess gene content and genomic architecture of recent emergent Escherichia coli O104:H4 and related strains. In real-time outbreak investigations, these technologies can provide congruent perspectives on strain, serotype, and pathotype relationships. Our data demonstrated clear discrimination between clinically, temporally, and geographically distinct O104:H4 isolates and rapid characterization of strain differences.
A roundtable to discuss the measurement of folate status biomarkers in NHANES took place in July 2010. NHANES has measured serum folate since 1974 and red blood cell (RBC) folate since 1978 with the use of several different measurement procedures. Data on serum 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5MTHF) and folic acid (FA) concentrations in persons aged ≥60 y are available in NHANES 1999–2002. The roundtable reviewed data that showed that folate concentrations from the Bio-Rad Quantaphase II procedure (Bio-Rad Laboratories, Hercules, CA; used in NHANES 1991–1994 and NHANES 1999–2006) were, on average, 29% lower for serum and 45% lower for RBC than were those from the microbiological assay (MA), which was used in NHANES 2007–2010. Roundtable experts agreed that these differences required a data adjustment for time-trend analyses. The roundtable reviewed the possible use of an isotope-dilution liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) measurement procedure for future NHANES and agreed that the close agreement between the MA and LC-MS/MS results for serum folate supported conversion to the LC-MS/MS procedure. However, for RBC folate, the MA gave 25% higher concentrations than did the LC-MS/MS procedure. The roundtable agreed that the use of the LC-MS/MS procedure to measure RBC folate is premature at this time. The roundtable reviewed the reference materials available or under development at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and recognized the challenges related to, and the scientific need for, these materials. They noted the need for a commutability study for the available reference materials for serum 5MTHF and FA.
A roundtable to discuss the measurement of vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) status biomarkers in NHANES took place in July 2010. NHANES stopped measuring vitamin B-12–related biomarkers after 2006. The roundtable reviewed 3 biomarkers of vitamin B-12 status used in past NHANES—serum vitamin B-12, methylmalonic acid (MMA), and total homocysteine (tHcy)—and discussed the potential utility of measuring holotranscobalamin (holoTC) for future NHANES. The roundtable focused on public health considerations and the quality of the measurement procedures and reference methods and materials that past NHANES used or that are available for future NHANES. Roundtable members supported reinstating vitamin B-12 status measures in NHANES. They noted evolving concerns and uncertainties regarding whether subclinical (mild, asymptomatic) vitamin B-12 deficiency is a public health concern. They identified the need for evidence from clinical trials to address causal relations between subclinical vitamin B-12 deficiency and adverse health outcomes as well as appropriate cutoffs for interpreting vitamin B-12–related biomarkers. They agreed that problems with sensitivity and specificity of individual biomarkers underscore the need for including at least one biomarker of circulating vitamin B-12 (serum vitamin B-12 or holoTC) and one functional biomarker (MMA or tHcy) in NHANES. The inclusion of both serum vitamin B-12 and plasma MMA, which have been associated with cognitive dysfunction and anemia in NHANES and in other population-based studies, was preferable to provide continuity with past NHANES. Reliable measurement procedures are available, and National Institute of Standards and Technology reference materials are available or in development for serum vitamin B-12 and MMA.
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a common cause of diarrhea among children living in and among travelers visiting developing countries. Human ETEC strains represent an epidemiologically and phenotypically diverse group of pathogens, and there is a need to identify natural groupings of these organisms that may help to explain this diversity. Here, we sought to identify most of the important human ETEC lineages that exist in the E. coli population, because strains that originate from the same lineage may also have inherited many of the same epidemiological and phenotypic traits. We performed multilocus sequence typing (MLST) on 1,019 ETEC isolates obtained from humans in different countries and analyzed the data against a backdrop of MLST data from 1,250 non-ETEC E. coli and eight ETEC isolates from pigs. A total of 42 different lineages were identified, 15 of which, representing 792 (78%) of the strains, were estimated to have emerged >900 years ago. Twenty of the lineages were represented in more than one country. There was evidence of extensive exchange of enterotoxin and colonization factor genes between different lineages. Human and porcine ETEC have probably emerged from the same ancestral ETEC lineage on at least three occasions. Our findings suggest that most ETEC strains circulating in the human population today originate from well-established, globally widespread ETEC lineages. Some of the more important lineages identified here may represent a smaller and more manageable target for the ongoing efforts to develop effective ETEC vaccines.
AcrAB-TolC imparts a strong intrinsic resistance phenotype to many clinically significant molecules in Escherichia coli. This complex is composed of a pump, AcrB, and a periplasmic protein, AcrA, that exports substrates through a common outer membrane porin, TolC. A sequence survey of the pump-specific components, acrA and acrB, was conducted on three discrete animal reservoirs: rodents, bovines, and catfish. Although two of the reservoirs (bovine and catfish) were agrarian, and antibiotic use (ceftiofur and oxytetracycline/Romet 30, respectively) was reported for them, the vast majority of structural polymorphisms were silent except for T104A (AcrA) and Q733R (AcrB), found in certain bovine-derived strains. Overall, the genes were well conserved, with high ratios of synonymous to nonsynonymous substitutions (dS/dN ratios), consistent with or, in the case of acrB, better than those of standard multilocus sequence typing (MLST) loci. Furthermore, predicted recombination points from single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) patterns in acrB support a modular evolution of transporter proteins, consistent with an ancient origin. However, functional studies with clones representing the major silent SNPs and the nonsilent mutation in acrB failed to generate significant differences in resistance to a range of common efflux pump substrates. Interestingly, a comparison between log-phase acrA and acrB expression profiles yielded inconsistent trends, with acrB expression increasing modestly (<1.8-fold) in many strains from the antibiotic-enriched pools. Our results suggest that structural polymorphisms in this major efflux pump system may not contribute significantly to adaptive resistance by altering function or substrate specificity but may have a potential use in improving phylogenetic relationships and/or source tracking.
Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7, a food and waterborne pathogen, can be classified into nine phylogenetically distinct lineages, as determined by single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping. One lineage (clade 8) was found to be associated with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure and death in some cases, particularly young children. Another lineage (clade 2) differs considerably in gene content and is phylogenetically distinct from clade 8, but caused significantly fewer cases of HUS in a prior study. Little is known, however, about how these two lineages vary with regard to phenotypic traits important for disease pathogenesis and in the expression of shared virulence genes.
Here, we quantified the level of adherence to and invasion of MAC-T bovine epithelial cells, and examined the transcriptomes of 24 EHEC O157:H7 strains with varying Shiga toxin profiles from two common lineages. Adherence to epithelial cells was >2-fold higher for EHEC O157:H7 strains belonging to clade 8 versus clade 2, while no difference in invasiveness was observed between the two lineages. Whole-genome 70-mer oligo microarrays, which probe for 6088 genes from O157:H7 Sakai, O157:H7 EDL 933, pO157, and K12 MG1655, detected significant differential expression between clades in 604 genes following co-incubation with epithelial cells for 30 min; 186 of the 604 genes had a >1.5 fold change difference. Relative to clade 2, clade 8 strains showed upregulation of major virulence genes, including 29 of the 41 locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) pathogenicity island genes, which are critical for adherence, as well as Shiga toxin genes and pO157 plasmid-encoded virulence genes. Differences in expression of 16 genes that encode colonization factors, toxins, and regulators were confirmed by qRT-PCR, which revealed a greater magnitude of change than microarrays.
These findings demonstrate that the EHEC O157:H7 lineage associated with HUS expresses higher levels of virulence genes and has an enhanced ability to attach to epithelial cells relative to another common lineage.
Transmission of group B Streptococcus (GBS) from mothers to neonates during childbirth is a leading cause of neonatal sepsis and meningitis. Although subtyping tools have identified specific GBS phylogenetic lineages that are important in neonatal disease, little is known about the genetic diversity of these lineages or the roles that recombination and selection play in the generation of emergent genotypes. Here, we examined genetic variation, selection, and recombination in seven multilocus sequence typing (MLST) loci from 94 invasive, colonizing, and bovine strains representing 38 GBS sequence types and performed DNA sequencing and PCR-based restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of several putative virulence genes to identify gene content differences between genotypes. Despite the low level of diversity in the MLST loci, a neighbor net analysis revealed a variable range of genetic exchange among the seven clonal complexes (CCs) identified, suggesting that recombination is partly responsible for the diversity observed between genotypes. Recombination is also important for several virulence genes, as some gene alleles had evidence for lateral gene exchange across divergent genotypes. The CC-17 lineage, which is associated with neonatal disease, is relatively homogeneous and therefore appears to have diverged independently with an exclusive set of virulence characteristics. These data suggest that different GBS genetic backgrounds have distinct virulence gene profiles that may be important for disease pathogenesis. Such profiles could be used as markers for the rapid detection of strains with an increased propensity to cause neonatal disease and may be considered useful vaccine targets.
Changes in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) concentrations in the US population have not been described.
Use data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) to compare serum 25OHD concentrations in the US population in 2000–2004 versus 1988–1994, and to identify contributing factors.
Serum 25OHD was measured with a radioimmunoassay kit in 20,289 participants in NHANES 2000–2004 and 18,158 participants in NHANES III (1988–1994). Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from measured height and weight. Milk intake and sun protection were assessed by questionnaire. Assay differences were assessed by re-analyzing 150 stored sera specimens from NHANES III with the current assay.
Age-adjusted mean serum 25OHD concentrations were significantly lower by 5–20 nmol/L in NHANES 2000–2004 than in NHANES III. After accounting for assay shifts, age-adjusted means in NHANES 2000–2004 remained significantly lower (by 5–9 nmol/L) in most males, but not in most females. In a study subsample, accounting for the confounding effects of assay differences changed mean serum 25OHD by ~10 nmol/L, while accounting for changes in the factors likely related to real changes in vitamin D status (BMI, milk intake, and sun protection) changed means by 1–1.6 nmol/L.
Overall, mean serum 25OHD was lower in 2000–2004 than 1988–1994. Assay changes unrelated to changes in vitamin D status accounted for much of the difference in most population groups. In an adult subgroup, combined changes in BMI, milk intake and sun protection appeared to contribute to a real decline in vitamin D status.
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D; Vitamin D status; NHANES
Evolutionary analyses of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) have identified two distantly related clonal groups: EHEC 1, including serotype O157:H7 and its inferred ancestor O55:H7; and EHEC 2, comprised of several serogroups (O26, O111, O118, etc.). These two clonal groups differ in their virulence and global distribution. Although several fully annotated genomic sequences exist for strains of serotype O157:H7, much less is known about the genomic composition of EHEC 2. In this study, we analyzed a set of 24 clinical EHEC 2 strains representing serotypes O26:H11, O111:H8/H11, O118:H16, O153:H11 and O15:H11 from humans and animals by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) on an oligoarray based on the O157:H7 Sakai genome.
Backbone genes, defined as genes shared by Sakai and K-12, were highly conserved in EHEC 2. The proportion of Sakai phage genes in EHEC 2 was substantially greater than that of Sakai-specific bacterial (non-phage) genes. This proportion was inverted in O55:H7, reiterating that a subset of Sakai bacterial genes is specific to EHEC 1. Split decomposition analysis of gene content revealed that O111:H8 was more genetically uniform and distinct from other EHEC 2 strains, with respect to the Sakai O157:H7 gene distribution. Serotype O26:H11 was the most heterogeneous EHEC 2 subpopulation, comprised of strains with the highest as well as the lowest levels of Sakai gene content conservation. Of the 979 parsimoniously informative genes, 15% were found to be compatible and their distribution in EHEC 2 clustered O111:H8 and O118:H16 strains by serotype. CGH data suggested divergence of the LEE island from the LEE1 to the LEE4 operon, and also between animal and human isolates irrespective of serotype. No correlation was found between gene contents and geographic locations of EHEC 2 strains.
The gene content variation of phage-related genes in EHEC 2 strains supports the hypothesis that extensive modular shuffling of mobile DNA elements has occurred among EHEC strains. These results suggest that EHEC 2 is a multiform pathogenic clonal complex, characterized by substantial intra-serotype genetic variation. The heterogeneous distribution of mobile elements has impacted the diversification of O26:H11 more than other EHEC 2 serotypes.
Molecular characterization and subtyping show genetic diversities within clonal complexes.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 variants were examined for trait mutations and by molecular subtyping to better define clonal complexes postulated on the O157:H7 evolution model. Strains of β-glucuronidase–positive, sorbitol-negative O157:H7 isolated in United States and Japan were identical to A5 clonal strain and shared sequence type (ST)–65 by multilocus sequence typing (MLST); thus, they belong in A5. However, these strains exhibited pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profile differences that suggested genomic divergence between populations. Sorbitol-fermenting O157 (SFO157) strains from Finland, Scotland, and Germany were identical to A4 clonal strain and belong in A4. Some SFO157 strains, isolated years apart and from different countries, had identical PFGE profiles, suggesting a common origin. Despite similarities, some Finnish and Scottish and all of the German strains have ST-75 (“German clone”), whereas others have ST-76, a new variant (“Scottish clone”). MLST of strains in other clonal complexes also discriminated strains thought to be identical and showed that genetic differences will further distinguish clonal populations into subclones.
Enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7; clonal complexes; genetic diversity; molecular evolution; research
Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) infections are a leading cause of infantile diarrhea in developing nations. Typical EPEC isolates are differentiated from other types of pathogenic E. coli by two distinctive phenotypes, attaching effacement and localized adherence. The genes specifying these phenotypes are found on the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) and the EPEC adherence factor (EAF) plasmid. To describe how typical EPEC has evolved, we characterized a diverse collection of strains by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and performed restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of three virulence genes (eae, bfpA, and perA) to assess allelic variation. Among 129 strains representing 20 O-serogroups, 21 clonal genotypes were identified using MLST. RFLP analysis resolved nine eae, nine bfpA, and four perA alleles. Each bfpA allele was associated with only one perA allele class, suggesting that recombination has not played a large role in shuffling the bfpA and perA loci between separate EAF plasmids. The distribution of eae alleles among typical EPEC strains is more concordant with the clonal relationships than the distribution of the EAF plasmid types. These results provide further support for the hypothesis that the EPEC pathotype has evolved multiple times within E. coli through separate acquisitions of the LEE island and EAF plasmid.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains contain different genomic insertions or deletions called large sequence polymorphisms (LSPs). Distinguishing between LSPs that occur one time versus ones that occur repeatedly in a genomic region may provide insights into the biological roles of LSPs and identify useful phylogenetic markers. We analyzed 163 clinical M. tuberculosis isolates for 17 LSPs identified in a genomic comparison of M. tuberculosis strains H37Rv and CDC1551. LSPs were mapped onto a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based phylogenetic tree created using nine novel SNP markers that were found to reproduce a 212-SNP-based phylogeny. Four LSPs (group A) mapped to a single SNP tree segment. Two LSPs (group B) and 11 LSPs (group C) were inferred to have arisen independently in the same genomic region either two or more than two times, respectively. None of the group A LSPs but one group B LSP and five group C LSPs were flanked by IS6110 sequences in the references strains. Genes encoding members of the proline-glutamic acid or proline-proline-glutamic acid protein families were present only in group B or C LSPs. SNP- versus LSP-based phylogenies were also compared. We classified each isolate into 58 LSP types by using a separate LSP-based phylogenetic analysis and mapped the LSP types onto the SNP tree. LSPs often assigned isolates to the correct phylogenetic lineage; however, significant mistakes occurred for 6/58 (10%) of the LSP types. In conclusion, most LSPs occur in genomic regions that are prone to repeated insertion/deletion events and were responsible for an unexpectedly high degree of genomic variation in clinical M. tuberculosis. Group B and C LSPs may represent polymorphisms that occur due to selective pressure and affect the phenotype of the organism, while group A LSPs are preferable phylogenetic markers.
Multilocus sequencing was used to compare Campylobacter sp. strains isolated from retail chicken products and humans with gastroenteritis in central Michigan. Sequence comparisons demonstrated overlapping diversity between chicken and human isolates. Campylobacter jejuni isolates from clinical sources had a greater diversity of flagellin alleles and a higher rate of quinolone resistance than isolates from retail chicken products.
Serotyping and other phenotypic methods are often used to characterize the capsular polysaccharide of group B streptococci (GBS). We describe a capsular genotyping method that utilizes PCR of capsular polysaccharide synthesis genes (cps) and restriction enzyme digestion. This method facilitates the detection of DNA polymorphism in cps genes and correlates well with serotyping.
Genome comparisons have demonstrated that dramatic genetic change often underlies the emergence of new bacterial pathogens. Evolutionary analysis of Escherichia coli O157:H7, a pathogen that has emerged as a worldwide public health threat in the past two decades, has posited that this toxin-producing pathogen evolved in a series of steps from O55:H7, a recent ancestor of a nontoxigenic pathogenic clone associated with infantile diarrhea. We used comparative genomic hybridization with 50-mer oligonucleotide microarrays containing probes from both pathogenic and nonpathogenic genomes to infer when genes were acquired and lost. Many ancillary virulence genes identified in the O157 genome were already present in an O55:H7-like progenitor, with 27 of 33 genomic islands of >5 kb and specific for O157:H7 (O islands) that were acquired intact before the split from this immediate ancestor. Most (85%) of variably absent or present genes are part of prophages or phage-like elements. Divergence in gene content among these closely related strains was ∼140 times greater than divergence at the nucleotide sequence level. A >100-kb region around the O-antigen gene cluster contained highly divergent sequences and also appears to be duplicated in its entirety in one lineage, suggesting that the whole region was cotransferred in the antigenic shift from O55 to O157. The β-glucuronidase-positive O157 variants, although phylogenetically closest to the Sakai strain, were divergent for multiple adherence factors. These observations suggest that, in addition to gains and losses of phage elements, O157:H7 genomes are rapidly diverging and radiating into new niches as the pathogen disseminates.
A bacterium originally described as Hafnia alvei induces diarrhea in rabbits and causes epithelial damage similar to the attachment and effacement associated with enteropathogenic Escherichia coli. Subsequent studies identified similar H. alvei-like strains that are positive for an intimin gene (eae) probe and, based on DNA relatedness, are classified as a distinct Escherichia species, Escherichia albertii. We determined sequences for multiple housekeeping genes in five E. albertii strains and compared these sequences to those of strains representing the major groups of pathogenic E. coli and Shigella. A comparison of 2,484 codon positions in 14 genes revealed that E. albertii strains differ, on average, at ∼7.4% of the nucleotide sites from pathogenic E. coli strains and at 15.7% from Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium. Interestingly, E. albertii strains were found to be closely related to strains of Shigella boydii serotype 13 (Shigella B13), a distant relative of E. coli representing a divergent lineage in the genus Escherichia. Analysis of homologues of intimin (eae) revealed that the central conserved domains are similar in E. albertii and Shigella B13 and distinct from those of eae variants found in pathogenic E. coli. Sequence analysis of the cytolethal distending toxin gene cluster (cdt) also disclosed three allelic groups corresponding to E. albertii, Shigella B13, and a nontypeable isolate serologically related to S. boydii serotype 7. Based on the synonymous substitution rate, the E. albertii-Shigella B13 lineage is estimated to have split from an E. coli-like ancestor ∼28 million years ago and formed a distinct evolutionary branch of enteric pathogens that has radiated into groups with distinct virulence properties.
We describe two serogroup O157 Escherichia coli strains from Brazilian infants with diarrhea. A variety of assays indicate that these strains belong to the enteropathogenic, not the enterohemorrhagic, pathotype. These strains possess a novel bfpA allele encoding the type IV pilin characteristic of typical enteropathogenic E. coli strains. Our results emphasize the pitfalls of classifying pathogenic E. coli by serogroup.
Escherichia coli infections; classification; phylogeny; base sequence; sequence alignment; fimbriae; bacterial; dispatch
Most illnesses caused by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) have been attributed to E. coli serotype O157:H7, but non-O157 STEC infections are now increasingly recognized as public health problems worldwide. The O121:H19 serotype is being isolated more frequently from clinical specimens and has been implicated in one waterborne outbreak. We used multilocus virulence gene profiling, a PCR-based assay, to characterize the virulence gene content of 24 isolates of serotype O121:H19 and nonmotile variants. We also performed multilocus enzyme electrophoresis and multilocus sequencing to establish the clonal relatedness of O121 isolates and to elucidate the relationship of O121 to common STEC clones. The 24 isolates were found to represent a single bacterial clone, as there was no allelic variation across 18 enzyme loci among the isolates. The complete nucleotide sequence of the intimin gene differed by four substitutions from that of the epsilon (Int-ɛ) allele of O103:H2 strain PMK5. The typical O121 virulence gene profile was similar to the profiles of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) clones of E. coli: it included a Shiga toxin 2 gene (stx2), two genes on the EHEC plasmid (toxB and ehxA), and the gene encoding intimin (eae). Despite the similarities, putative virulence genes distributed on O islands—large chromosomal DNA segments present in the O157:H7 genome—were useful for discriminating among STEC serotypes and the O121:H19 clone had a composite profile that was distinct from the profiles of the other major EHEC clones of pathogenic E. coli. On the basis of sequencing analysis with 13 housekeeping genes, the O121:H19 clone did not fall into any of the four classical EHEC and enteropathogenic E. coli groups but instead was closely related to two eae-negative STEC strains.