Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) shares with other diarrheal pathogens the capacity to invade epithelial cell lines originating from the human ileum or colon, although the role of invasion in ETEC pathogenesis remains undefined. Two distinct loci (tia and tib) that direct noninvasive E. coli to adhere to and invade intestinal epithelial cell lines have previously been isolated from cosmid libraries of the classical ETEC strain H10407. Here, we report the molecular characterization of the tia locus. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis of cellular fractions of E. coli DH5α carrying the tia-positive cosmids and recombinant plasmid subclones revealed that this locus directs the production of a 25- kDa protein (the Tia protein) that is localized to the outer membrane. The tia locus was subcloned to a maximum of 2 kb and mutagenized with bacteriophage Mud. Synthesis of this protein was directly correlated with the ability of subclones and Mud transposon mutants to adhere to and invade epithelial cells. Sequencing of the tia locus identified a 756-bp open reading frame. All transposon insertions resulting in an invasion-negative phenotype mapped to this open reading frame. The open reading frame was amplified and directionally cloned behind the lac promoter of pHG165. This construct directed DH5α to express a 25-kDa protein and to adhere to and invade epithelial cells. The role of the tia gene in directing epithelial adherence and invasion was further assessed by the construction of chromosomal tia deletion derivatives of the parent ETEC strain, H10407. These tia deletion strains were noninvasive and lacked the ability to adhere to human ileocecal cells. The tia gene shares limited homology with the Yersinia ail locus and significant homology with the hra1 agglutinin gene cloned from a porcine ETEC strain. Additionally, tia probes hybridized to geographically diverse ETEC strains, as well as some enteropathogenic E. coli, enteroaggregative E. coli, and Shigella sonnei strains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2256-2265
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1996


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