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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2001 Mar 15;196(2):153-7.

The Yersinia high-pathogenicity island is highly predominant in virulence-associated phylogenetic groups of Escherichia coli.

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Service de Microbiologie, Laboratoire d'études de génétique bactérienne dans les infections de l'enfant (EA3105), Université Denis Diderot-Paris 7, Hôpital Robert Debré, 48 Blvd. Sérurier, 75395 Paris Cedex 19, France.


The high-pathogenicity island (HPI) present in pathogenic Yersinia and encoding the siderophore yersiniabactin, has recently been identified in the asnT tRNA region of various Escherichia coli pathotypes, especially those responsible for bacteremia and urosepsis. Most E. coli strains causing such extra-intestinal infections belong to phylogenetic groups B2 and D. In this study we investigated (i) the distribution and localization of HPI among the different E. coli phylogenetic groups, using the ECOR reference collection; and (ii) the prevalence of HPI among a set of 124 phylogenetically characterized E. coli strains responsible for neonatal meningitis. Ninety-three percent of the ECOR strains belonging to groups B2 and D harbored HPI. In contrast, the island was present in 32% and 25% of strains belonging to groups A and B1, respectively, which are considered to be non-pathogenic. HPI was found in 100% of the neonatal meningitis strains, 13 of which belonged to groups A and B1, suggesting that HPI might contain virulent factors required for the development of neonatal meningitis. Moreover, we observed for the first time that HPI can be inserted in a site different from the asnT tRNA region.

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