Comparative genomics and transcriptomics of Escherichia coli isolates carrying virulence factors of both enteropathogenic and enterotoxigenic E. coli

Tracy H. Hazen, Jane Michalski, Qingwei Luo, Amol C. Shetty, Sean C. Daugherty, James M. Fleckenstein, David A. Rasko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Escherichia coli that are capable of causing human disease are often classified into pathogenic variants (pathovars) based on their virulence gene content. However, disease-Associated hybrid E. coli, containing unique combinations of multiple canonical virulence factors have also been described. Such was the case of the E. coli O104:H4 outbreak in 2011, which caused significant morbidity and mortality. Among the pathovars of diarrheagenic E. coli that cause significant human disease are the enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) and enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC). In the current study we use comparative genomics, transcriptomics, and functional studies to characterize isolates that contain virulence factors of both EPEC and ETEC. Based on phylogenomic analysis, these hybrid isolates are more genomically-related to EPEC, but appear to have acquired ETEC virulence genes. Global transcriptional analysis using RNA sequencing, demonstrated that the EPEC and ETEC virulence genes of these hybrid isolates were differentially-expressed under virulence-inducing laboratory conditions, similar to reference isolates. Immunoblot assays further verified that the virulence gene products were produced and that the T3SS effector EspB of EPEC, and heat-labile toxin of ETEC were secreted. These findings document the existence and virulence potential of an E. coli pathovar hybrid that blurs the distinction between E. coli pathovars.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3513
JournalScientific reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

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