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Infect Immun. Sep 1996; 64(9): 3736–3743.
PMCID: PMC174287

Two pathogenicity islands in uropathogenic Escherichia coli J96: cosmid cloning and sample sequencing.


Many of the virulence genes of pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli are carried in large multigene chromosomal segments called pathogenicity islands (PAIs) that are absent from normal fecal and laboratory K-12 strains of this bacterium. We are studying PAIs in order to better understand factors that govern virulence and to assess how such DNA segments are gained or lost during evolution. The isolation and sample sequencing of a set of 11 cosmid clones that cover all of one and much of a second large PAI in the uropathogenic E. coli J96 are described. These PAIs were mapped to the 64- and 94-min regions of the E. coli K-12 chromosome, which differ from the locations of three PAIs identified in other pathogenic E. coli strains. Analysis of the junction sequences with E. coli K-12-like DNAs showed that the insert at 94 min is within the 3' end of a phenylalanine tRNA gene, pheR, and is flanked by a 135-bp imperfect direct repeat. Analysis of the one junction recovered from the insert at 64 min indicated that it lies near another tRNA gene, pheV. To identify possible genes unique to these PAIs, 100 independent subclones of the cosmids were made by PstI digestion and ligation into a pBS+ plasmid and used in one-pass sample DNA sequencing from primer binding sites at the cloning site in the vector DNA. Database searches of the J96 PAI-specific sequences identified numerous instances in which the cloned DNAs shared significant sequence similarities to adhesins, toxins, and other virulence determinants of diverse pathogens. Several likely insertion sequence elements (IS100, IS630, and IS911) and conjugative R1 plasmid and P4 phage genes were also found. We propose that such mobile genetic elements may have facilitated the spread of virulence determinants within PAIs among bacteria.

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Selected References

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