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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2006 Jul;12(7):634-41.

Molecular and phenotypic profiling of sorbitol-fermenting Escherichia coli O157:H- human isolates from Finland.

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1
Enteric Bacteria Laboratory, Department of Bacterial and Inflammatory Diseases, National Public Health Institute (KTL), Helsinki, Finland.

Abstract

This study investigated the occurrence of virulence-associated genes, including stx1, stx2, stx2c, stx2d, stx2e, eae and its subtypes (alpha, beta, gamma, epsilon), efa1, cdt-V cluster, enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC)-hlyA, katP, espP, etpD, sfpA and the flagellar fliC gene, in nine sorbitol-fermenting (SF), beta-glucuronidase-positive E. coli O157:H- (non-motile) isolates obtained from humans in Finland between 1997 and 2001. In addition, the production of Shiga toxin (Stx), cytolethal distending toxin (CDT)-V and EHEC haemolysin (EHEC-Hly) was studied, and the phage type (PT) and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) types were determined. All nine isolates carried eae-gamma, efa1, EHEC-hlyA, etpD, sfpA and fliC; eight also harboured the cdt-V gene cluster and five were positive for stx2. None of the isolates harboured stx1, stx2c, stx2d, stx2e, katP or espP. All isolates harbouring the corresponding genes also produced Stx2 and CDT-V in titres ranging from 1:32 to 1:128 and from 1:2 to 1:4, respectively. None of the isolates expressed EHEC-Hly on enterohaemolysin agar. Seven isolates belonged to PT88 and two had a PT88 variant pattern. Seven isolates showed a close genetic relationship, with a PFGE similarity index (SI) of 92-98%. Two isolates, temporally the first and last, obtained 5 years apart, were the most divergent (SI of 71% and 85%, respectively). The study demonstrated that SF E. coli O157:H- isolates from Finland are closely related and show a close relationship with SF E. coli O157 strains isolated in Germany. This finding suggests a clonality of SF E. coli O157:H- isolates from different geographical regions.

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