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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 Feb;80(4):1394-402. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03696-13. Epub 2013 Dec 13.

Lineage-specific distribution of insertion sequence excision enhancer in enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli isolated from swine.

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Bacterial and Parasitic Disease Research Division, National Institute of Animal Health, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


Insertion sequences (ISs) are the simplest transposable elements and are widely distributed in bacteria; however, they also play important roles in genome evolution. We recently identified a protein called IS excision enhancer (IEE) in enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157. IEE promotes the excision of IS elements belonging to the IS3 family, such as IS629, as well as several other families. IEE-mediated IS excision generates various genomic deletions that lead to the diversification of the bacterial genome. IEE has been found in a broad range of bacterial species; however, among sequenced E. coli strains, IEE is primarily found in EHEC isolates. In this study, we investigated non-EHEC pathogenic E. coli strains isolated from domestic animals and found that IEE is distributed in specific lineages of enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) strains of serotypes O139 or O149 isolated from swine. The iee gene is located within integrative elements that are similar to SpLE1 of EHEC O157. All iee-positive ETEC lineages also contained multiple copies of IS629, a preferred substrate of IEE, and their genomic locations varied significantly between strains, as observed in O157. These data suggest that IEE may have been transferred among EHEC and ETEC in swine via SpLE1 or SpLE1-like integrative elements. In addition, IS629 is actively moving in the ETEC O139 and O149 genomes and, as in EHEC O157, is promoting the diversification of these genomes in combination with IEE.

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