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Infect Immun. 2004 May;72(5):2484-93.

Involvement of lipoprotein NlpI in the virulence of adherent invasive Escherichia coli strain LF82 isolated from a patient with Crohn's disease.

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  • 1Pathogénie Bactérienne Intestinale, Laboratoire de Bactériologie, Université d'Auvergne, 63001 Clermont-Ferrand, France.


Escherichia coli strain LF82 recovered from a chronic lesion of a patient with Crohn's disease (CD) is able to adhere to and invade cultured intestinal epithelial cells and to replicate within macrophages. One mutant selected for its impaired ability to invade epithelial cells had an insertion of a Tn phoA transposon within the nlpI gene encoding the lipoprotein NlpI. A NlpI-negative isogenic mutant showed a 35-fold decrease in its ability to adhere to and a 45-fold decrease in its ability to invade Intestine-407 cells, but its ability to survive and to replicate within macrophages was similar to that of wild-type strain LF82. In addition, this mutant did not express flagella and synthesized very small amounts of type 1 pili. Downregulation of type 1 pili in the NlpI-negative mutant resulted from a preferential switch toward the OFF position of the invertible DNA element located upstream of the fim operon. The FimB and FimE recombinases act in concert to control the switch, and a large decrease in fimB and fimE mRNA levels was observed. The absence of flagellar structures correlated with a drastic 19-fold decrease in the fliC mRNA level, regardless of the FlhD(2)C(2) transcriptional regulator and of the sigma(28) transcription factor. The key role of NlpI in virulence is independent of type 1 pili and motility, since induced type 1 pilus expression and/or forced contact between bacteria and intestinal epithelial cells did not restore the ability of the NlpI mutant to adhere to and to invade intestinal epithelial cells.

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