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Int J Infect Dis. 2013 Jun;17(6):e450-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2013.01.025. Epub 2013 Mar 16.

Distribution of uropathogenic virulence genes in Escherichia coli isolated from patients with urinary tract infection.

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Microbiology and Immunology Department, UR02SP13, Farhat Hached Teaching Hospital, Av. Ibn el Jazzar, 4000, Sousse, Tunisia.



Escherichia coli is the predominant pathogen causing urinary tract infection (UTI), the most common bacterial infectious disease encountered in clinical practice, accounting for significant morbidity and high medical costs. The severity of UTI produced by E. coli is due to the expression of a wide spectrum of virulence factors. In this study we evaluated the role of E. coli virulence determinants in the pathogenesis of UTI.


A total of 90 uropathogenic E. coli strains were screened by PCR for the prevalence of seven virulence genes encoding type 1 fimbriae (fimH), pili associated with pyelonephritis (pap), S and F1C fimbriae (sfa and foc), afimbrial adhesins (afa), cytotoxic necrotizing factor (cnf), hemolysin (hly), and aerobactin (aer).


The prevalence of genes coding for fimbrial adhesive systems was 68% for fimH, 41% for pap, and 34% for sfa/foc. The operons coding for afa afimbrial adhesins were identified in 20% of strains. The hly and cnf genes coding for toxins were amplified in 19% and 3% of strains, respectively. A prevalence of 52% was found for the aer gene. The various combinations of detected genes were designated as virulence patterns. The strains isolated from hospitalized patients displayed a great diversity of gene associations compared to those isolated from ambulatory patients.


Our study showed that investigation of the bacterial pathogenicity associated with UTI may contribute to a better medical intervention.

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