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N Engl J Med. 1985 Aug 15;313(7):414-20.

Gal-Gal binding and hemolysin phenotypes and genotypes associated with uropathogenic Escherichia coli.


To determine whether uropathogenic strains of Escherichia coli exhibit a distinctive constellation of phenotypes, we examined 44 urinary isolates from women with radiologically normal urinary tracts and pyelonephritis, cystitis, or asymptomatic bacteriuria and 73 fecal isolates from healthy control subjects. The strains were characterized by their O serogroup, by their binding specificity (as determined by adhesins), and by their production of hemolysin and colicin V. In addition, the strains were assessed for homologous gene sequences by means of DNA-hybridization probes prepared from cistrons that encode hemolysin and the Gal-Gal binding adhesin--two determinants of virulence, which cause tissue injury and promote bacterial colonization of uroepithelia, respectively. In contrast to most isolates from normal feces and from the urine of patients with asymptomatic bacteriuria, pyelonephritis strains belong to a small number of O serogroups; all express the Gal--Gal binding adhesin and 75 per cent are hemolytic. A gene probe for the Gal--Gal binding adhesin, derived from the chromosome of one strain from a patient with pyelonephritis, hybridized with the DNA of all other pyelonephritis strains. The probe for the hemolysin gene hybridized with DNA from all other hemolytic strains. These data indicate that most cases of pyelonephritis are due to a small number of pathogenic clones that express critical determinants of virulence, and that the nucleotide sequences for hemolysin and the Gal--Gal binding adhesin in heterologous strains share homology. We are tempted to speculate that the gene products of these shared regions of the genome might form the basis for a vaccine against pyelonephritis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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