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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1999 Oct 1;179(1):169-74.

Lack of expression of bundle-forming pili in some clinical isolates of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) is due to a conserved large deletion in the bfp operon.

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Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Departamento de Microbiologia, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Prof Lineu Prestes, 1374 CEP:05389-970, São Paulo, Brazil.


Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) produces a plasmid-encoded type IV pilus, called the bundle-forming pilus (BFP), involved in the formation of the localized adhesion onto epithelial cells. In this study, we demonstrate that clinical isolates of serotypes O128ab:H2 and O119:H2 contain a ca. 13-kb deletion in the bfp operon, resulting in a lack of expression of these pili. An IS sequence with homology to the IS66 of Agrobacterium tumefaciens replaced the deleted bfp genes. These results suggest that the bfp operon was deleted through a transpositional event and that other adherence factors may mediate attachment of these bacteria to the host cells.

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