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Microbiology. 2009 May;155(Pt 5):1634-44. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.024869-0. Epub 2009 Apr 16.

Comparison of virulence factors and expression of specific genes between uropathogenic Escherichia coli and avian pathogenic E. coli in a murine urinary tract infection model and a chicken challenge model.

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Animal Infectious Disease Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, Jiangsu 225009, PR China.


Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) and uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) establish infections in extraintestinal habitats of different hosts. As the diversity, epidemiological sources and evolutionary origins of extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC) are so far only partially defined, in the present study,100 APEC isolates and 202 UPEC isolates were compared by their content of virulence genes and phylogenetic groups. The two groups showed substantial overlap in terms of their serogroups, phylogenetic groups and virulence genotypes, including their possession of certain genes associated with large transmissible plasmids of APEC. In a chicken challenge model, both UPEC U17 and APEC E058 had similar LD(50), demonstrating that UPEC U17 had the potential to cause significant disease in poultry. To gain further information about the similarities between UPEC and APEC, the in vivo expression of 152 specific genes of UPEC U17 and APEC E058 in both a murine urinary tract infection (UTI) model and a chicken challenge model was compared with that of these strains grown statically to exponential phase in rich medium. It was found that in the same model (murine UTI or chicken challenge), various genes of UPEC U17 and APEC E058 showed a similar tendency of expression. Several iron-related genes were upregulated in the UTI model and/or chicken challenge model, indicating that iron acquisition is important for E. coli to survive in blood or the urinary tract. Based on these results, the potential for APEC to act as human UPEC or as a reservoir of virulence genes for UPEC should be considered. Further, this study compared the transcriptional profile of virulence genes among APEC and UPEC in vivo.

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