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J Clin Microbiol. 1998 Nov;36(11):3317-22.

Identification of new verocytotoxin type 2 variant B-subunit genes in human and animal Escherichia coli isolates.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, VTEC Reference Laboratory, Academisch Ziekenhuis Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.


The sequence of a verocytotoxin 2 (VT2) variant gene that was untypeable by the B subunit PCR and restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis (PCR-RFLP) method described by Tyler et al. (S. D. Tyler, W. M. Johnson, H. Lior, G. Wang, and K. R. Rozee, J. Clin. Microbiol. 29:1339-1343, 1991) was determined and compared with published sequences. It was highly homologous to two recently reported VT2 variant sequences. The PCR-RFLP method described by Tyler et al. was extended to include these new sequences. New VT2 variants were identified in 65 of 359 VT-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) with newly designed primers (VT2-cm and VT2-f) and were characterized as well by restriction analysis of the amplification products obtained with another VT2-specific primer pair (VT2-e and VT2-f). The VT genes harbored by 64 of these isolates proved to be untypeable by Tyler's PCR-RFLP method because no amplification was obtained with the primers used with this method (VT2-c and VT2-d). The last isolate harbored the new variant gene in addition to VT2vh-a. None of the isolates harboring these new toxin genes belonged to serogroups O157, O26, O103, O111, and O145. All 65 isolates were negative for the eaeA gene and were significantly less frequently enterohemolytic or positive for the enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) virulence plasmid than non-O157 VTEC isolates harboring other VT2 genes. They were also less frequently isolated from patients with EHEC-associated symptoms. The extended PCR-RFLP typing method is a useful tool to identify less-virulent VTEC isolates and for VT genotyping in epidemiological studies with non-O157 strains.

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