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Infect Immun. 1995 Dec;63(12):4721-8.

Identification and cloning of a novel plasmid-encoded enterotoxin of enteroinvasive Escherichia coli and Shigella strains.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA.


We have employed a molecular genetic approach to characterize the nature of enteroinvasive Escherichia coli (EIEC) enterotoxic activity, as previously observed in Ussing chambers (A. Fasano, B.A. Kay, R.G. Russell, D.R. Maneval, Jr., and M.M. Levine, Infect. Immun. 58:3717-3723, 1990). The screening of TnphoA mutants of EIEC yielded a single insertion mutant which had significantly reduced levels of enterotoxic activity in the Ussing chamber assay. DNA flanking the insertion was used as a probe to screen for EIEC cosmid clones which conferred secretogenic activity. Such screening resulted in the identification of two overlapping cosmid clones which elicited significant changes in mucosal short-circuit current (Isc). Subcloning and nucleotide sequence analysis of a DNA fragment from one of the cosmid clones led to the identification of a single open reading frame which conferred this enterotoxic activity. By DNA hybridization, this gene (designated sen for shigella enterotoxin) was found in 75% of EIEC strains and 83% of Shigella strains and was localized to the inv plasmid of Shigella flexneri 2457T. By PCR, a sen gene with 99.7% nucleotide identity was cloned and sequenced from 2457T. A deletion in the EIEC sen gene was constructed by allelic exchange, resulting in significantly lower rises in Isc than were elicited by the wild-type parent; however, significant enterotoxic activity remained in the sen deletion mutant. To purify the Sen protein, the gene was cloned into the multiple cloning site of the expression vector pKK223-3. Purification of the sen gene product yielded a protein with a molecular mass of 63 kDa which elicited rises in Isc in the Ussing chamber. We believe that the sen gene product may constitute all or part of a novel enterotoxin in EIEC and Shigella spp.

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