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Comparative genomic analysis of a Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O145:H25 associated with a severe pediatric case of hemolytic uremic syndrome in Davidson County, Tennessee, US

  • Guerra, Julio A.1
  • Zhang, Chengxian2
  • Bard, Jonathan E.3
  • Yergeau, Donald3
  • Halasa, Natasha2
  • Gómez-Duarte, Oscar G.1, 2
  • 1 University at Buffalo, The State University of New York (SUNY), Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, 875 Ellicott St. Office 6090, Buffalo, NY, 14203, USA , Buffalo (United States)
  • 2 Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA , Nashville (United States)
  • 3 University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY, USA , Buffalo (United States)
Published Article
BMC Genomics
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Aug 17, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s12864-020-06967-3
Springer Nature


BackgroundShiga toxin-producing E. coli (STECs) are foodborne pathogens associated with bloody diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Although the STEC O157 serogroup accounts for the highest number of infections, HUS-related complications and deaths, the STEC non-O157, as a group, accounts for a larger proportion of STEC infections and lower HUS cases. There is limited information available on how to recognize non-O157 serotypes associated with severe disease. The objectives of this study were to describe a patient with STEC non-O157 infection complicated with HUS and to conduct a comparative whole genome sequence (WGS) analysis among the patient’s STEC clinical isolate and STEC O157 and non-O157 strains.ResultsThe STEC O145:H25 strain EN1I-0044-2 was isolated from a pediatric patient with diarrhea, HUS and severe neurologic and cardiorespiratory complications, who was enrolled in a previously reported case-control study of acute gastroenteritis conducted in Davidson County, Tennessee in 2013. The strain EN1I-0044-2 genome sequence contained a chromosome and three plasmids. Two of the plasmids were similar to those present in O145:H25 strains whereas the third unique plasmid EN1I-0044-2_03 shared no similarity with other STEC plasmids, and it carried 23 genes of unknown function. Strain EN1I-0044-2, compared with O145:H25 and O157 serogroup strains shared chromosome- and plasmid-encoded virulence factors, including Shiga toxin, LEE type III secretion system, LEE effectors, SFP fimbriae, and additional toxins and colonization factors.ConclusionsA STEC O145:H25 strain EN1I-0044-2 was isolated from a pediatric patient with severe disease, including HUS, in Davidson County, TN. Phylogenetic and comparison WGS analysis provided evidence that strain EN1I-0044-2 closely resembles O145:H25, and confirmed an independent evolutionary path of STEC O145:H25 and O145:H28 serotypes. The strain EN1I-0044-2 virulence make up was similar to other O145:H25 and O157 serogroups. It carried stx2 and the LEE pathogenicity island, and additional colonization factors and enterotoxin genes. A unique feature of strain EN1I-0044-2 was the presence of plasmid pEN1I-0044-2_03 carrying genes with functions to be determined. Further studies will be necessary to elucidate the role that newly acquired genes by O145:H25 strains play in pathogenesis, and to determine if they may serve as genetic markers of severe disease.

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