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Tissue Tropism of Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli Strains Belonging to the O55 Serogroup

  • R. J. Fitzhenry
  • S. Reece
  • L. R. Trabulsi
  • R. Heuschkel
  • S. Murch
  • M. Thomson
  • G. Frankel
  • A. D. Phillips
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2002


Four enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) strains belonging to the O55 serogroup (G21 and G30 [both O55:H6], G35 [O55:H−], and G58 [O55:H7]) were tested for their tissue tropism by using human intestinal in vitro organ culture. Strains showed restricted adhesion with attaching-and-effacing activity to follicle-associated epithelium of Peyer's patches, with no apparent adhesion to duodenum or colon. G35 and G58 express intimin γ and show a similar tropism to intimin γ-expressing enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O157:H7. However, strains G21 and G30 were unusual because they expressed intimin α and had a restricted tissue tropism of intimin γ phenotype. The amino acid sequence of the carboxy-terminal 280 amino acids of intimin from G21 was determined. Comparison with the prototype intimin α from strain E2348/69 (O127:H6) showed a single amino acid difference (corresponding to Val907 and Ala907 in the whole intimins). This mutation was reproduced by site-directed mutagenesis in an intimin α plasmid template, pCVD438, with the hypothesis that it may induce a change in tropism. However, when the mutated plasmid was placed in both EPEC and EHEC backgrounds, duodenal adhesion in a manner similar to strain E2348/69 was evident upon in vitro organ culture. Thus, additional factor(s) unrelated to intimin exist in the O55:H6 genome that influence human intestinal tissue tropism.

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