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Funct Integr Genomics. 2001 Sep;1(5):312-22.

A novel genetic island of meningitic Escherichia coli K1 containing the ibeA invasion gene (GimA): functional annotation and carbon-source-regulated invasion of human brain microvascular endothelial cells.

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Department of Pediatrics, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and the University of Southern California, 4650 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA.


The IbeA (ibe10) gene is an invasion determinant contributing to E. coli K1 invasion of the blood-brain barrier. This gene has been cloned and characterized from the chromosome of an invasive cerebrospinal fluid isolate of E. coli K1, strain RS218 (018:K1: H7). In the present study, a genetic island of meningitic E. coli containing ibeA (GimA) has been identified. A 20.3-kb genomic DNA island unique to E. coli K1 strains has been cloned and sequenced from an RS218 E. coli K1 genomic DNA library. Fourteen new genes have been identified in addition to the ibeA. The DNA sequence analysis indicated that the ibeA gene cluster was localized to the 98 min region and consisted of four operons, ptnIPKC, cglDTEC, gcxKRCI and ibeRAT. The G+C content (46.2%) of unique regions of the island is substantially different from that (50.8%) of the rest of the E. coli chromosome. By computer-assisted analysis of the sequences with DNA and protein databases (GenBank and PROSITE databases), the functions of the gene products could be anticipated, and were assigned to the functional categories of proteins relating to carbon source metabolism and substrate transportation. Glucose was shown to enhance E. coli penetration of human brain microvascular endothelial cells and exogenous cAMP was able to block the stimulating effect of glucose, suggesting that catabolic regulation may play a role in control of E. coli K1 invasion gene expression. Our data suggest that this genetic island may contribute to E. coli invasion of the blood-brain barrier through a carbon-source-regulated process.

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