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Infect Immun. 2004 Mar;72(3):1666-76.

Glycolytic and gluconeogenic growth of Escherichia coli O157:H7 (EDL933) and E. coli K-12 (MG1655) in the mouse intestine.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island 02881, USA.


Escherichia coli EDL933, an O157:H7 strain, is known to colonize the streptomycin-treated CD-1 mouse intestine by growing in intestinal mucus (E. A. Wadolkowski, J. A. Burris, and A. D. O'Brien, Infect. Immun. 58:2438-2445, 1990), but what nutrients and metabolic pathways are employed during colonization has not been determined. In this study, when the wild-type EDL933 strain was fed to mice along with an EDL933 DeltappsA DeltapckA mutant, which is unable to utilize tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates and gluconeogenic substrates for growth, both strains colonized the mouse intestine equally well. Therefore, EDL933 utilizes a glycolytic substrate(s) for both initial growth and maintenance when it is the only E. coli strain fed to the mice. However, in the presence of large numbers of MG1655, a K-12 strain, it is shown that EDL933 utilizes a glycolytic substrate(s) for initial growth in the mouse intestine but appears to utilize both glycolytic and gluconeogenic substrates in an attempt to maintain colonization. It is further shown that MG1655 predominantly utilizes glycolytic substrates for growth in the mouse intestine whether growing in the presence or absence of large numbers of EDL933. Data are presented showing that although small numbers of EDL933 grow to large numbers in the intestine in the presence of large numbers of MG1655 when both strains are fed to mice simultaneously, precolonization with MG1655 affords protection against subsequent colonization by EDL933. Moreover, in mice that are precolonized with EDL933, small numbers of MG1655 are able to grow rapidly in the intestine and EDL933 is eliminated. In situ hybridization experiments using E. coli-specific rRNA probes showed that while MG1655 is found only in mucus, EDL933 is found both in mucus and closely associated with intestinal epithelial cells. The data are discussed with respect to competition for nutrients and to the protection that some intestinal commensal E. coli strains might afford against infection by O157:H7 strains.

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