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Infect Genet Evol. 2008 Mar;8(2):217-26. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2007.11.005. Epub 2007 Nov 29.

Molecular evolution of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and pathogenic Escherichia coli: from pathogenesis to therapeutics.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Espri 26, Avenue J.F. Kennedy, 30908 Nîmes Cedex 02, France.


Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) and certain Escherichia coli are human pathogens that have evolved through the acquisition of multiple virulence determinants by horizontal gene transfer. Similar genetic elements, as pathogenicity islands and virulence plasmids, have driven molecular evolution of virulence in both species. In addition, the contribution of prophages has been recently highlighted as a reservoir for pathogenic diversity. Characterization of horizontally acquired virulence genes has several clinical implications. First, identification of virulence determinants that have a sporadic distribution and are specifically associated with a pathotype and/or a pathology can be useful markers for risk assessment and diagnosis. Secondly, virulence factors widely distributed in pathogenic strains, but absent from non-pathogenic bacteria, are interesting targets for the development of novel antimicrobial chemotherapies and vaccines. Here, we summarize the horizontally acquired virulence factors of S. Typhimurium, enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 and uropathogenic E. coli, and we describe their use in novel therapeutic approaches.

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