Role of the Escherichia coli O157:H7 O side chain in adherence and analysis of an rfb locus

Sima S. Bilge, James C. Vary, Scott F. Dowell, Phillip I. Tarr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli strains belonging to serotype O157 are important human pathogens, but the genetic basis of expression of the O157 antigen and the role played by the lipopolysaccharide O side chain in the adherence of this organism to epithelial cells are not understood. We performed TnphoA mutagenesis on E. coli O157:H7 strain 86-24 to identify a mutant (strain F12) deficient in O-antigen expression. Nucleotide sequence analysis demonstrated that the transposon inserted within an open reading frame with significant homology to rfbE of Vibrio cholerae O1 (U. H. Stroeher, L. E. Karageorgos, R. Morona, and P. A. Manning, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 89:2566-2570, 1992), which is postulated to encode perosamine synthetase. This open reading frame was designated rfbE(EcO157:H7). The guanine-plus-cytosine fraction (0.35) suggests that rfbE(EcO157:H7) may have originated in a species other than E. coli. rfbE(EcO157:H7) is conserved in nontoxigenic E. coli O157 strains expressing a variety of other flagellar antigens but is not found in E. coli O55:H7 strains, which are more closely related to E. coli O157:H7. Strain F12 was significantly more adherent to HeLa cells in a quantitative adherence assay than was its E. coli O157:H7 parent, but they did nut differ in other phenotypes. Restoration of the expression of the O side chain by complementarian of the TnphoA mutation in strain F12 by a plasmid expressing intact rfbE(EcO157:H7) reduced the adherence of the hyperadherent strain F12. We conclude that rfbE(EcO157:H7) is necessary for the expression of the O157 antigen, that acquisition of E. coli rfb genes occurred independently in E. coli O157:H7 and unrelated O157 strains, and that the O side chain of E. coli O157:H7 lipopolysaccharide interferes with the adherence of E. coli O157:H7 to epithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4795-4801
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1996


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of the Escherichia coli O157:H7 O side chain in adherence and analysis of an rfb locus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this