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Infect Immun. May 1993; 61(5): 1619–1629.
PMCID: PMC280743

Clonal relationships among Escherichia coli strains that cause hemorrhagic colitis and infantile diarrhea.

Abstract

The genetic relationships among 1,300 isolates of Escherichia coli representing 16 serotypes associated with enteric disease, including O157:H7 strains recovered from patients with hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic uremic syndrome and O26:H11, O55:H6, O55:H7, O111:H2, and O128:H2 strains, many of which were isolated originally from infants with diarrhea, were estimated from allelic variation among 20 enzyme-encoding genes detected by multilocus enzyme electrophoresis. Multiple electrophoretic types were observed among isolates of each serotype, with isolates of the same O serogroup differing on average at 28% of the enzyme loci. Comparisons of the multilocus enzyme profiles revealed that 72% of the isolates belong to 15 major electrophoretic types, each of which corresponds to a bacterial clone with a wide geographic distribution. Genetically, the O157:H7 clone is most closely related to a clone of O55:H7 strains that has long been associated with worldwide outbreaks of infantile diarrhea. We propose that the new pathogen emerged when an O55:H7-like progenitor, already possessing a mechanism for adherence to intestinal cells, acquired secondary virulence factors (Shiga-like cytotoxins and plasmid-encoded adhesins) via horizontal transfer and recombination.

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