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Vet Microbiol. 2001 Sep 3;82(1):81-9.

Virulence genes and P fimbriae PapA subunit diversity in canine and feline uropathogenic Escherichia coli.

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Centro de Investigação Interdisciplinar em Sanidade Animal, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Rua Prof. Cid dos Santos, 1300-477 Lisboa, Portugal.


In this study, a total of 118 Escherichia coli strains isolated from dogs (93) and cats (25) with urinary tract infection (UTI) were tested in a multiplex polymerase chain reaction for the presence of adhesin-encoding genes (pap, sfa, and afa), hemolysin encoding genes (hly), cytotoxic necrotizing factor 1 (cnf1) and aerobactin (aer) genes. Virulence gene frequencies detected in those isolates which had been randomly collected (68 canine strains) were: 43% pap, 57% sfa, 1% afa, 44% hly, 41% cnf1 and 34% aer. These frequencies were much higher in the remaining 50 hemolytic strains of either cat or dog origin. Virulence factor associations in the 80 hemolytic strains studied revealed that 50/80 simultaneously had two adhesin genes (pap and sfa) and two cytotoxin genes (hly and cnf1), and 15/80 in addition had the aer gene. The major structural subunit and antigenic determinant of P fimbriae of uropathogenic E. coli is PapA. Polymorphism in this subunit was studied by an F antigen-specific papA allele polymerase chain reaction in 51 canine and 22 feline pap positive E. coli strains. The most prevalent canine papA alleles were F10 (39%), F15 (37%) and F12 (35%). In feline strains F15 (50%) was more frequent, other allele frequencies were F12 (45%), F14 and F10 (27%) and F16 (23%). Only nine canine and two feline strains were negative for one of the 11 serologically defined F types of P fimbriae. Three copies of the pap operon were found in 16/51 canine and 9/22 feline UTI E. coli pap positive strains. In this study, we show that a particular combination of virulence genes appears with high frequency in dog and cat urinary tract E. coli strains (pap, sfa, hly, and cnf1). In spite of the more frequent presence of F10, F12 and F15 papA alleles in this virulence gene combination, the occurrence of different papA alleles in strains where up to three copies of the pap operon are present accounts for the observed P fimbriae diversity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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