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J Med Microbiol. 2014 Aug;63(Pt 8):1023-37. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.073742-0. Epub 2014 May 30.

Cronobacter spp.--opportunistic food-borne pathogens. A review of their virulence and environmental-adaptive traits.

Author information

1
Department of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Jordan University of Science and Technology, PO Box 3030, Irbid 22110, Jordan jaradatz@just.edu.jo.
2
Department of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Jordan University of Science and Technology, PO Box 3030, Irbid 22110, Jordan.
3
Department of Nutrition and Food Technology, Jordan University of Science and Technology, PO Box 3030, Irbid 22110, Jordan.
4
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Division of Virulence Assessment, 8301 Muirkirk Road, Laurel, MD 20708, USA.

Abstract

The genus Cronobacter consists of a diverse group of Gram-negative bacilli and comprises seven species: Cronobacter sakazakii, Cronobacter malonaticus, Cronobacter muytjensii, Cronobacter turicensis, Cronobacter dublinensis, Cronobacter universalis and Cronobacter condimenti. Cronobacter are regarded as opportunistic pathogens, and have been implicated in newborn and infant infections, causing meningitis, necrotizing enterocolitis and bacteraemia or sepsis. Cronobacter virulence is believed to be due to multiple factors. Some strains were found to produce diarrhoea or cause significant fluid accumulation in suckling mice. Two iron acquisition systems (eitCBAD and iucABCD/iutA), Cronobacter plasminogen activator gene (cpa), a 17 kb type VI secretion system (T6SS), and a 27 kb filamentous haemagglutinin gene (fhaBC) and associated putative adhesins locus are harboured on a family of RepFIB-related plasmids (pESA3 and pCTU1), suggesting that these are common virulence plasmids; 98% of 229 tested Cronobacter strains possessed these plasmids. Even though pESA3 and pCTU1 share a common backbone composed of the repA gene and eitCBAD and iucABCD/iutA gene clusters, the presence of cpa, T6SS and FHA loci depended on species, demonstrating a strong correlation with the presence of virulence traits, plasmid type and species. Other factors were observed, in that Cronobacter form biofilms, and show unusual resistance to heat, dry and acid stress growth conditions. The outer-membrane protein A is probably one of the best-characterized virulence markers of Cronobacter. Furthermore, it was reported that Cronobacter employ phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase/Akt signalling, which activates protein kinase C-α and impairs the host cell's mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, in order to invade cells. Cronobacter can also use immature dendritic cells and macrophages to escape the immune response. This review addresses the various virulence and environmental-adaptive characteristics possessed by members of the genus Cronobacter.

PMID:
24878566
DOI:
10.1099/jmm.0.073742-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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