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Microbiology. 2004 Nov;150(Pt 11):3631-3645. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.27448-0.

Identification of Escherichia coli O157 : H7 genes influencing colonization of the bovine gastrointestinal tract using signature-tagged mutagenesis.

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Mammalian Enteric Pathogens Group, Division of Microbiology, Institute for Animal Health, Compton, Newbury, Berkshire RG20 7NN, UK.


Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) cause acute gastroenteritis in humans that may be complicated by life-threatening systemic sequelae. The predominant EHEC serotype affecting humans in the UK and North America is O157 : H7 and infections are frequently associated with contact with ruminant faeces. Strategies to reduce the carriage of EHEC in ruminants are expected to lower the incidence of human EHEC infections; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying persistence of EHEC in ruminants are poorly understood. This paper reports the first comprehensive survey for EHEC factors mediating colonization of the bovine intestines by using signature-tagged transposon mutagenesis. Seventy-nine E. coli O157 : H7 mutants impaired in their ability to colonize calves were isolated and 59 different genes required for intestinal colonization were identified by cloning and sequencing of the transposon insertion sites. Thirteen transposon insertions were clustered in the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE), which encodes a type III protein secretion system required for the formation of attaching and effacing lesions on intestinal epithelia. A putative structural component of the apparatus (EscN) is essential for intestinal colonization; however, the type III secreted effector protein Map plays only a minor role. Other Type III secretion-associated genes were implicated in colonization of calves by E. coli O157 : H7, including z0990 (ecs0850), which encodes the non-LEE-encoded type III secreted effector NleD and the closely related z3023 (ecs2672) and z3026 (ecs2674) genes which encode homologues of Shigella IpaH proteins. We also identified a novel fimbrial locus required for intestinal colonization in calves by E. coli O157 : H7 (z2199-z2206; ecs2114-ecs2107/locus 8) and demonstrated that a mutant harbouring a deletion of the putative major fimbrial subunit gene is rapidly out-competed by the parent strain in co-infection studies. Our data provide valuable new information for the development of intervention strategies.

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