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Enteropathogenic and Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli Virulence Gene Regulation

Biology Department, Reed College, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, OR 97202, USA.
Infection and Immunity (Impact Factor: 4.16). 10/2007; 75(9):4199-210. DOI: 10.1128/IAI.01927-06
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: The Gram-negative enteric bacterium Citrobacter rodentium is a natural mouse pathogen that has been extensively used as a surrogate model for studying the human pathogens enteropathogenic and enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli. All three pathogens produce similar attaching and effacing (A/E) lesions in the intestinal epithelium. During infection these bacteria employ surface structures called fimbriae to adhere and colonize the host intestinal epithelium. For C. rodentium the role of only a small number of its genome encoded fimbrial operons have been evaluated. Here we report the identification of a novel C. rodentium colonization factor, herein called Gcf (Gut colonization fimbria), which is encoded by a chaperone-usher fimbrial operon. A gcfA mutant shows a severe colonization defect within the first 10 days of infection. The gcf promoter is not active in C. rodentium under several in vitro growth conditions; however, it is readily expressed in a C. rodentium Δhns1 mutant lacking the closest ortholog of E. coli H-NS, but not in mutants of the other four genes encoding H-NS homologs. H-NS binds to the regulatory region of gcf, further supporting its direct role as a repressor of the gcf promoter that starts transcription 158 bp upstream of the start codon of its first open reading frame. The gcf operon possesses interesting novel traits that open future opportunities to expand our knowledge of the structure, regulation and function during infection of these important bacterial structures. Fimbriae are surface bacterial structures implicated in a variety of biological processes. Some have been shown to play a critical role during host colonization and thus in disease. Pathogenic bacteria posses the genetic information for an assortment of fimbriae, but the function, regulation and interplay between them have not been studied in detail. This work provides new insights into the function and regulation of a novel fimbria called Gcf that is important for early establishment of a successful infection by C. rodentium in mice, despite being poorly expressed under in vitro growth conditions. This discovery offers an opportunity to better understand the individual role and the regulatory mechanisms controlling the expression of specific fimbrial operons that are critical during infection. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
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    ABSTRACT: Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) is an important foodborne pathogen that infects humans by colonizing the large intestine. Here we identify a virulence-regulating pathway in which the biotin protein ligase BirA signals to the global regulator Fur, which in turn activates LEE (locus of enterocyte effacement) genes to promote EHEC adherence in the low-biotin large intestine. LEE genes are repressed in the high-biotin small intestine, thus preventing adherence and ensuring selective colonization of the large intestine. The presence of this pathway in all nine EHEC serotypes tested indicates that it is an important evolutionary strategy for EHEC. The pathway is incomplete in closely related small-intestinal enteropathogenic E. coli due to the lack of the Fur response to BirA. Mice fed with a biotin-rich diet show significantly reduced EHEC adherence, indicating that biotin might be useful to prevent EHEC infection in humans.
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    ABSTRACT: The locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) is a 35.6 kb pathogenicity island inserted in the genome of some bacteria such as enteropathogenic Escherichia coli, enterohemorrhagic E.coli, Citrobacter rodentium, and Escherichia albertii. LEE comprises the genes responsible for causing attaching and effacing lesions, a characteristic lesion that involves intimate adherence of bacteria to enterocytes, a signaling cascade leading to brush border and microvilli destruction, and loss of ions, causing severe diarrhea. It is composed of 41 open reading frames and five major operons encoding a type three system apparatus, secreted proteins, an adhesin, called intimin, and its receptor called translocated intimin receptor (Tir). LEE is subjected to various levels of regulation, including transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulators located both inside and outside of the pathogenicity island. Several molecules were described being related to feedback inhibition, transcriptional activation, and transcriptional repression. These molecules are involved in a complex network of regulation, including mechanisms such as quorum sensing and temporal control of LEE genes transcription and translation. In this mini review we have detailed the complex network that regulates transcription and expression of genes involved in this kind of lesion.
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