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Cell Microbiol. 2010 Nov;12(11):1544-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2010.01518.x. Epub 2010 Aug 31.

LEEways: tales of EPEC, ATEC and EHEC.

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Institut für Infektiologie - Zentrum für Molekularbiologie der Entzündung (ZMBE), Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Von-Esmarch-Str. 56, D-48149 Münster, Germany.


Intestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli are a major cause of worldwide morbidity and mortality. Currently seven intestinal pathovars are recognized causing a wide range of intestinal disorders that are sometimes associated with severe and even lethal complications. The arsenal of virulence factors is used to subvert cellular functions of the host thereby enhancing adaptation, virulence and pathogenicity. Virulence factor profiles are largely the result of the acquisition of mobile genetic elements such as prophages and pathogenicity islands. A group of highly adapted intestinal pathogenic E. coli that are characterized by the induction of 'attaching-and-effacing (A/E) lesions' have acquired a decisive pathogenicity island, the 'locus of enterocyte effacement - LEE' by horizontal gene transfer. This review focuses on recent advances in our understanding of A/E E. coli. It highlights novel functions of effector proteins, addresses the LEE flanking regions where additional genetic elements such as the LifA/Efa1 region have been identified, and points to implications for diagnostics and therapy due to the putative interconversion of A/E E. coli during infection.

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