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Toxins (Basel). 2011 Jun;3(6):608-25. doi: 10.3390/toxins3060608. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

Shiga toxin: expression, distribution, and its role in the environment.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Mercyhurst College, Erie, PA 16546, USA.


In this review, we highlight recent work that has increased our understanding of the production and distribution of Shiga toxin in the environment. Specifically, we review studies that offer an expanded view of environmental reservoirs for Shiga toxin producing microbes in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. We then relate the abundance of Shiga toxin in the environment to work that demonstrates that the genetic mechanisms underlying the production of Shiga toxin genes are modified and embellished beyond the classical microbial gene regulatory paradigms in a manner that apparently "fine tunes" the trigger to modulate the amount of toxin produced. Last, we highlight several recent studies examining microbe/protist interactions that postulate an answer to the outstanding question of why microbes might harbor and express Shiga toxin genes in the environment.


E.coli O157; Shiga toxin; bacteriophage

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