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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 Aug;76(16):5510-9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00743-10. Epub 2010 Jun 25.

Rapid microarray-based genotyping of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli serotype O156:H25/H-/Hnt isolates from cattle and clonal relationship analysis.

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Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Seestrasse 55, Wusterhausen, Germany.


Since enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) isolates of serogroup O156 have been obtained from human diarrhea patients and asymptomatic carriers, we studied cattle as a potential reservoir for these bacteria. E. coli isolates serotyped by agglutination as O156:H25/H-/Hnt strains (n = 32) were isolated from three cattle farms during a period of 21 months and characterized by rapid microarray-based genotyping. The serotyping by agglutination of the O156 isolates was not confirmed in some cases by the results of DNA-based serotyping as only 25 of the 32 isolates were conclusively identified as O156:H25. In the multilocus sequence typing (MLST) analysis, all EHEC O156:H25 isolates were characterized as sequence type 300 (ST300) and ST688, which differ by a single-nucleotide exchange in the purA gene. Oligonucleotide microarrays allow simultaneous detection of a wider range of EHEC-associated and other E. coli virulence markers than other methods. All O156:H25 isolates showed a wide spectrum of virulence factors typical for EHEC. The stx(1) genes combined with the EHEC hlyA (hlyA(EHEC)) gene, the eae gene of the zeta subtype, as well as numerous other virulence markers were present in all EHEC O156:H25 strains. The behavior of eight different cluster groups, including four that were EHEC O156:H25, was monitored in space and time. Variations in the O156 cluster groups were detected. The results of the cluster analysis suggest that some O156:H25 strains had the genetic potential for a long persistence in the host and on the farm, while other strains did not. As judged by their pattern of virulence markers, E. coli O156:H25 isolates of bovine origin may represent a considerable risk for human infection. Our results showed that the miniaturized E. coli oligonucleotide arrays are an excellent tool for the rapid detection of a large number of virulence markers.

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