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Avian Dis. 1998 Jan-Mar;42(1):106-18.

The occurrence of ambient temperature-regulated adhesins, curli, and the temperature-sensitive hemagglutinin tsh among avian Escherichia coli.

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Department of Avian Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-4875, USA.


Escherichia coli establishes a secondary respiratory tract infection in birds following inhalation of contaminated dust and litter particles. Escherichia coli express adhesins under conditions reflective of the ambient temperatures present in poultry houses. These microbial adhesins allow E. coli to attach to cell types that it initially encounters in the respiratory tract. Ambient temperature-regulated adhesins represent a new class of bacterial hemagglutinins that include pili and the thin, aggregative, flexible filaments known as "curli." This study examines the occurrence of the ambient temperature-regulated adhesins, curli (crl, csgA), and an avian-specific, temperature-sensitive hemagglutinin, tsh, among avian and mammalian E. coli isolates. The avian hemagglutinin gene tsh was present in approximately 46% of clinical avian E. coli isolates. This gene was not detected among commensal E. coli isolated from healthy broiler chickens. Unlike tsh, curli genes were ubiquitous among E. coli. However, curli were observed in only half of the avian E. coli examined by electron microscopy. Curli were not present among several nonavian E. coli positive for crl and csgA. Approximately 25% of avian E. coli isolates agglutinated chicken erythrocytes when bacteria were grown at room temperature. Hemagglutination was not specific to E. coli isolated from poultry. Presence of either tsh or curli genes was not indicative of an isolate's ability to agglutinate chicken red blood cells. No discernible structures were observed mediating attachment of the bacteria to chicken red blood cells. An additional avian-specific hemagglutinin appears to be present among avian E. coli.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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