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Infect Immun. 2011 Jun;79(6):2430-9. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01199-10. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

Genotype and phenotypes of an intestine-adapted Escherichia coli K-12 mutant selected by animal passage for superior colonization.

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Advanced Center for Genome Technology, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma 73019, USA.


We previously isolated a spontaneous mutant of Escherichia coli K-12, strain MG1655, following passage through the streptomycin-treated mouse intestine, that has colonization traits superior to the wild-type parent strain (M. P. Leatham et al., Infect. Immun. 73:8039-8049, 2005). This intestine-adapted strain (E. coli MG1655*) grew faster on several different carbon sources than the wild type and was nonmotile due to deletion of the flhD gene. We now report the results of several high-throughput genomic analysis approaches to further characterize E. coli MG1655*. Whole-genome pyrosequencing did not reveal any changes on its genome, aside from the deletion at the flhDC locus, that could explain the colonization advantage of E. coli MG1655*. Microarray analysis revealed modest yet significant induction of catabolic gene systems across the genome in both E. coli MG1655* and an isogenic flhD mutant constructed in the laboratory. Catabolome analysis with Biolog GN2 microplates revealed an enhanced ability of both E. coli MG1655* and the isogenic flhD mutant to oxidize a variety of carbon sources. The results show that intestine-adapted E. coli MG1655* is more fit than the wild type for intestinal colonization, because loss of FlhD results in elevated expression of genes involved in carbon and energy metabolism, resulting in more efficient carbon source utilization and a higher intestinal population. Hence, mutations that enhance metabolic efficiency confer a colonization advantage.

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