Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) are the most common bacterial pathogens causing diarrhea in developing countries where they lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths, mostly in children. These organisms are a leading cause of diarrheal illness in travelers to endemic countries. ETEC pathogenesis, and consequently vaccine approaches, have largely focused on plasmid-encoded enterotoxins or fimbrial colonization factors. To date these approaches have not yielded a broadly protective vaccine. However, recent studies suggest that ETEC pathogenesis is more complex than previously appreciated and involves additional plasmid and chromosomally encoded virulence molecules that can be targeted in vaccines. Here, we review recent novel antigen discovery efforts, potential contribution of these proteins to the molecular pathogenesis of ETEC and protective immunity, and the potential implications for development of next generation vaccines for important pathogens. These proteins may help to improve the effectiveness of future vaccines by making them simpler and possibly broadly protective because of their conserved nature.
- Escherichia coli
- bacterial adhesions
- enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli