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PLoS One. 2010 Aug 31;5(8):e12489. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012489.

Comparative genomic analysis of pathogenic and probiotic Enterococcus faecalis isolates, and their transcriptional responses to growth in human urine.

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Laboratory of Microbial Gene Technology and Food Microbiology, Department of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, The Norwegian University of Life Sciences, As, Norway.


Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common infection caused by enterococci, and Enterococcus faecalis accounts for the majority of enterococcal infections. Although a number of virulence related traits have been established, no comprehensive genomic or transcriptomic studies have been conducted to investigate how to distinguish pathogenic from non-pathogenic E. faecalis in their ability to cause UTI. In order to identify potential genetic traits or gene regulatory features that distinguish pathogenic from non-pathogenic E. faecalis with respect to UTI, we have performed comparative genomic analysis, and investigated growth capacity and transcriptome profiling in human urine in vitro. Six strains of different origins were cultivated and all grew readily in human urine. The three strains chosen for transcriptional analysis showed an overall similar response with respect to energy and nitrogen metabolism, stress mechanism, cell envelope modifications, and trace metal acquisition. Our results suggest that citrate and aspartate are significant for growth of E. faecalis in human urine, and manganese appear to be a limiting factor. The majority of virulence factors were either not differentially regulated or down-regulated. Notably, a significant up-regulation of genes involved in biofilm formation was observed. Strains from different origins have similar capacity to grow in human urine. The overall similar transcriptional responses between the two pathogenic and the probiotic strain suggest that the pathogenic potential of a certain E. faecalis strain may to a great extent be determined by presence of fitness and virulence factors, rather than the level of expression of such traits.

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