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Adv Exp Med Biol. 1997;412:279-87.

Genetics of virulence of enteropathogenic E. coli.

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Center for Vaccine Development, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21201, USA.


Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) are a major cause of diarrhea in infants throughout the world. Although this pathogen was described 50 years ago, it is only recently that the pathogenic mechanisms employed by this organism have been elucidated. The characteristic histopathology induced by this organism, called "attaching and effacing", consists of intimate adherence of the bacterium to the epithelial cell with marked cytoskeletal changes including effacement of microvilli. A 35 kb region of chromosomal DNA, called the LEE for locus of enterocyte effacement has recently been described which contains all known genes necessary for production of this characteristic histopathology. Within this region is the eae gene encoding intimin, a 94 kDa OMP involved in intimate adherence. Also within this region are genes encoding proteins secreted extracellularly by EPEC (esp) and a type III secretion apparatus (sep) which shares homology with similar systems in Yersinia, Shigella, and Salmonella. Additional genes on a 60 MDa plasmid encode a type IV pilus (BFP) and a positive transcriptional activator (per) of multiple chromosomal and plasmid virulence genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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