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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2006 Sep;262(1):22-30.

Asymptomatic bacteriuria Escherichia coli strains: adhesins, growth and competition.

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Microbial Adhesion Group, Center for Biomedical Microbiology, BioCentrum-DTU, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark.


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect millions of people each year. Escherichia coli is the most common organism associated with asymptomatic bacteriuria (ABU) in humans. Persons affected by ABU may carry a particular E. coli strain for extended periods of time without any symptoms. In contrast to uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) that cause symptomatic UTI, very little is known about the mechanisms by which these strains colonize the urinary tract. Here, we have investigated the growth characteristics in human urine as well as adhesin repertoire of nine ABU strains; the ability of ABU strains to compete against the UPEC strain CFT073 was also studied. The different ABU strains displayed a wide variety of the measured characteristics. Half of the ABU strains displayed functional type 1 fimbriae while only one expressed functional P fimbriae. A good correlation between the growth rate of a particular strain and the survival of the strain in competition against CFT073 was observed. Our results support the notion that for strains with reduced capacity to express fimbriae, the ability to grow fast in human urine becomes crucial for colonization of the urinary tract.

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