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J Bacteriol. 2010 Apr;192(7):1832-43. doi: 10.1128/JB.01679-09. Epub 2010 Jan 29.

Role of decreased levels of Fis histone-like protein in Crohn's disease-associated adherent invasive Escherichia coli LF82 bacteria interacting with intestinal epithelial cells.

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Clermont Université, Université d'Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France.


The interaction of Crohn's disease (CD)-associated adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) strain LF82 with intestinal epithelial cells depends on surface appendages, such as type 1 pili and flagella. Histone-like proteins operate as global regulators to control the expression of these virulence factors. We evaluated the role of histone-like proteins in AIEC reference strain LF82 during infection of intestinal epithelial cells, Intestine-407, and observed that the fis mRNA level was decreased. The role of Fis in AIEC LF82 was determined by studying the phenotype of an LF82 fis::Km mutant. This was the first mutant of strain LF82 that has been described thus far that is unable to express flagellin but still able to produce type 1 pili. The cyclic-di-GMP pathway linking flagella and type 1 pilus expression is not involved in Fis-mediated regulation, and we identified in the present study Fis-binding sites located upstream of the fimE gene and in the intergenic region between fimB and nanC of the fim operon encoding type 1 pili. The major consequence of decreased Fis expression in AIEC bacteria in contact with host cells is a direct downregulation of fimE expression, leading to the preferential ON phase of the fimS element. Thus, by maintaining type 1 pilus expression, AIEC bacteria, which interact with the gut mucosa, have greater ability to colonize and to induce inflammation in CD patients.

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