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Microbiol Rev. 1991 Sep;55(3):437-50.

Colicin V virulence plasmids.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland 97201.


ColV plasmids are a heterogeneous group of IncFI plasmids which encode virulence-related properties such as the aerobactin iron uptake system, increased serum survival, and resistance to phagocytosis. These plasmids have been found in invasive strains of Escherichia coli which infect vertebrate hosts including humans and livestock. Colicin V was the first colicin to be identified, in 1925, but not until the field experienced a renewed interest has the mechanism of colicin V activity been explored. As encoded by ColV plasmid pColV-K30, the aerobactin iron uptake system has been extensively investigated, but other ColV-encoded phenotypes remain largely uncharacterized. Restriction enzyme mapping of the 144-kb pColV-K30 and of the 80-kb pColV-B188 has facilitated systematic study, so that questions can be addressed by a molecular and comparative approach regarding the contributions of individual factors and plasmids to the virulence of host E. coli in model systems. The family of large ColV plasmids could be analogous to other families of large virulence plasmids, and insights gained from studying these plasmids should contribute to our understanding of cross-genetic interactions and the role of large plasmids in bacterial pathogenesis.

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