July 19, 2019  |  

Origins of the E. coli strain causing an outbreak of hemolytic-uremic syndrome in Germany.

A large outbreak of diarrhea and the hemolytic-uremic syndrome caused by an unusual serotype of Shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli (O104:H4) began in Germany in May 2011. As of July 22, a large number of cases of diarrhea caused by Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli have been reported–3167 without the hemolytic-uremic syndrome (16 deaths) and 908 with the hemolytic-uremic syndrome (34 deaths)–indicating that this strain is notably more virulent than most of the Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli strains. Preliminary genetic characterization of the outbreak strain suggested that, unlike most of these strains, it should be classified within the enteroaggregative pathotype of E. coli.We used third-generation, single-molecule, real-time DNA sequencing to determine the complete genome sequence of the German outbreak strain, as well as the genome sequences of seven diarrhea-associated enteroaggregative E. coli serotype O104:H4 strains from Africa and four enteroaggregative E. coli reference strains belonging to other serotypes. Genomewide comparisons were performed with the use of these enteroaggregative E. coli genomes, as well as those of 40 previously sequenced E. coli isolates.The enteroaggregative E. coli O104:H4 strains are closely related and form a distinct clade among E. coli and enteroaggregative E. coli strains. However, the genome of the German outbreak strain can be distinguished from those of other O104:H4 strains because it contains a prophage encoding Shiga toxin 2 and a distinct set of additional virulence and antibiotic-resistance factors.Our findings suggest that horizontal genetic exchange allowed for the emergence of the highly virulent Shiga-toxin-producing enteroaggregative E. coli O104:H4 strain that caused the German outbreak. More broadly, these findings highlight the way in which the plasticity of bacterial genomes facilitates the emergence of new pathogens.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genome sequencing and comparative genomics provides insights on the evolutionary dynamics and pathogenic potential of different H-serotypes of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O104.

Various H-serotypes of the Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O104, including H4, H7, H21, and H¯, have been associated with sporadic cases of illness and have caused food-borne outbreaks globally. In the U.S., STEC O104:H21 caused an outbreak associated with milk in 1994. However, there is little known on the evolutionary origins of STEC O104 strains, and how genotypic diversity contributes to pathogenic potential of various O104 H-antigen serotypes isolated from different ecological niches and/or geographical regions.Two STEC O104:H21 (milk outbreak strain) and O104:H7 (cattle isolate) strains were shot-gun sequenced, and the genomes were closed. The intimin (eae) gene, involved in the attaching-effacing phenotype of diarrheagenic E. coli, was not found in either strain. Examining various O104 genome sequences, we found that two “complete” left and right end portions of the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) pathogenicity island were present in 13 O104 strains; however, the central portion of LEE was missing, where the eae gene is located. In O104:H4 strains, the missing central portion of the LEE locus was replaced by a pathogenicity island carrying the aidA (adhesin involved in diffuse adherence) gene and antibiotic resistance genes commonly carried on plasmids. Enteroaggregative E. coli-specific virulence genes and European outbreak O104:H4-specific stx2-encoding Escherichia P13374 or Escherichia TL-2011c bacteriophages were missing in some of the O104:H4 genome sequences available from public databases. Most of the genomic variations in the strains examined were due to the presence of different mobile genetic elements, including prophages and genomic island regions. The presence of plasmids carrying virulence-associated genes may play a role in the pathogenic potential of O104 strains.The two strains sequenced in this study (O104:H21 and O104:H7) are genetically more similar to each other than to the O104:H4 strains that caused an outbreak in Germany in 2011 and strains found in Central Africa. A hypothesis on strain evolution and pathogenic potential of various H-serotypes of E. coli O104 strains is proposed.


July 7, 2019  |  

Prevalence of subtilase cytotoxin-encoding subAB variants among Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli strains isolated from wild ruminants and sheep differs from that of cattle and pigs and is predominated by the new allelic variant subAB2-2.

Subtilase cytotoxin (SubAB) is an AB5 toxin produced by Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains usually lacking the eae gene product intimin. Three allelic variants of SubAB encoding genes have been described: subAB1, located on a plasmid, subAB2-1, located on the pathogenicity island SE-PAI and subAB2-2 located in an outer membrane efflux protein (OEP) region. SubAB is becoming increasingly recognized as a toxin potentially involved in human pathogenesis. Ruminants and cattle have been identified as reservoirs of subAB-positive STEC. The presence of the three subAB allelic variants was investigated by PCR for 152 STEC strains originating from chamois, ibex, red deer, roe deer, cattle, sheep and pigs. Overall, subAB genes were detected in 45.5% of the strains. Prevalence was highest for STEC originating from ibex (100%), chamois (92%) and sheep (65%). None of the STEC of bovine or of porcine origin tested positive for subAB. None of the strains tested positive for subAB1. The allelic variant subAB2-2 was detected the most commonly, with 51.4% possessing subAb2-1 together with subAB2-2. STEC of ovine origin, serotypes O91:H- and O128:H2, the saa gene, which encodes for the autoagglutinating adhesin and stx2b were significantly associated with subAB-positive STEC. Our results suggest that subAB2-1 and subAB2-2 is widespread among STEC from wild ruminants and sheep and may be important as virulence markers in STEC pathogenic to humans. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics and characterization of hybrid Shigatoxigenic and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC/ETEC) strains.

Shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) and enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) cause serious foodborne infections in humans. These two pathogroups are defined based on the pathogroup-associated virulence genes: stx encoding Shiga toxin (Stx) for STEC and elt encoding heat-labile and/or est encoding heat-stable enterotoxin (ST) for ETEC. The study investigated the genomics of STEC/ETEC hybrid strains to determine their phylogenetic position among E. coli and to define the virulence genes they harbor.The whole genomes of three STEC/ETEC strains possessing both stx and est genes were sequenced using PacBio RS sequencer. Two of the strains were isolated from the patients, one with hemolytic uremic syndrome, and one with diarrhea. The third strain was of bovine origin. Core genome analysis of the shared chromosomal genes and comparison with E. coli and Shigella spp. reference genomes was performed to determine the phylogenetic position of the STEC/ETEC strains. In addition, a set of virulence genes and ETEC colonization factors were extracted from the genomes. The production of Stx and ST were studied.The human STEC/ETEC strains clustered with strains representing ETEC, STEC, enteroaggregative E. coli, and commensal and laboratory-adapted E. coli. However, the bovine STEC/ETEC strain formed a remote cluster with two STECs of bovine origin. All three STEC/ETEC strains harbored several other virulence genes, apart from stx and est, and lacked ETEC colonization factors. Two STEC/ETEC strains produced both toxins and one strain Stx only.This study shows that pathogroup-associated virulence genes of different E. coli can co-exist in strains originating from different phylogenetic lineages. The possibility of virulence genes to be associated with several E. coli pathogroups should be taken into account in strain typing and in epidemiological surveillance. Development of novel hybrid E. coli strains may cause a new public health risk, which challenges the traditional diagnostics of E. coli infections.


July 7, 2019  |  

Draft whole-genome sequences of nine non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli strains.

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is an important food-borne pathogen. Here, we report the draft whole-genome sequences of nine STEC strains isolated from clinical cases in the United States. This is the first report of such information for STEC of serotypes O69, H11, O145:H25, O118:H16, O91:H21, O146:H21, O45:H2, O128:H2, and O121:H19. Copyright © 2014 Lindsey et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genome sequences of 228 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli isolates and 12 isolates representing other diarrheagenic E. coli pathotypes.

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are a common cause for food-borne diarrheal illness outbreaks and sporadic cases. Here, we report the availability of the draft genome sequences of 228 STEC strains representing 32 serotypes with known pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) types and epidemiological relationships, as well as 12 strains representing other diarrheagenic E. coli pathotypes. Copyright © 2014 Trees et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genomic epidemiology of the Escherichia coli O104:H4 outbreaks in Europe, 2011.

The degree to which molecular epidemiology reveals information about the sources and transmission patterns of an outbreak depends on the resolution of the technology used and the samples studied. Isolates of Escherichia coli O104:H4 from the outbreak centered in Germany in May-July 2011, and the much smaller outbreak in southwest France in June 2011, were indistinguishable by standard tests. We report a molecular epidemiological analysis using multiplatform whole-genome sequencing and analysis of multiple isolates from the German and French outbreaks. Isolates from the German outbreak showed remarkably little diversity, with only two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) found in isolates from four individuals. Surprisingly, we found much greater diversity (19 SNPs) in isolates from seven individuals infected in the French outbreak. The German isolates form a clade within the more diverse French outbreak strains. Moreover, five isolates derived from a single infected individual from the French outbreak had extremely limited diversity. The striking difference in diversity between the German and French outbreak samples is consistent with several hypotheses, including a bottleneck that purged diversity in the German isolates, variation in mutation rates in the two E. coli outbreak populations, or uneven distribution of diversity in the seed populations that led to each outbreak.


July 7, 2019  |  

Draft genome sequences of five Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli isolates harboring the new and recently described subtilase cytotoxin allelic variant subAB2-3.

We present here the draft genome sequences of five Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains which tested positive in a primary subAB screening. Assembly and annotation of the draft genomes revealed that all strains harbored the recently described allelic variant subAB2-3 Based on the sequence data, primers were designed to identify and differentiate this variant. Copyright © 2017 Tasara et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete annotated genome sequences of two Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli strains and one atypical enteropathogenic E. coli strain, isolated from naturally colonized cattle of German origin.

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains are important zoonotic enteric pathogens with the main reservoir in cattle. Here, we present the genomes of two STEC strains and one atypical enteropathogenic E. coli strain from cattle origin, obtained during a longitudinal study in German cattle herds. Copyright © 2017 Geue et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Multiple mechanisms responsible for strong Congo-red-binding variants of Escherichia coli O157:H7 strains.

High variability in the expression of csgD-dependent, biofilm-forming and adhesive properties is common among Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli. Although many strains of serotype O157:H7 form little biofilm, conversion to stronger biofilm phenotypes has been observed. In this study, we screened different strains of serotype O157:H7 for the emergence of strong Congo-red (CR) affinity/biofilm-forming properties and investigated the underlying genetic mechanisms. Two major mechanisms which conferred stronger biofilm phenotypes were identified: mutations (insertion, deletion, single nucleotide change) in rcsB region and stx-prophage excision from the mlrA site. Restoration of the native mlrA gene (due to prophage excision) resulted in strong biofilm properties to all variants. Whereas RcsB mutants showed weaker CR affinity and biofilm properties, it provided more possibilities for phenotypic presentations through heterogenic sequence mutations. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of FEMS 2015. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.


July 7, 2019  |  

Global phylogeography and evolutionary history of Shigella dysenteriae type 1

Together with plague, smallpox and typhus, epidemics of dysentery have been a major scourge of human populations for centuries1. A previous genomic study concluded that Shigella dysenteriae type 1 (Sd1), the epidemic dysentery bacillus, emerged and spread worldwide after the First World War, with no clear pattern of transmission2. This is not consistent with the massive cyclic dysentery epidemics reported in Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries1,3,4 and the first isolation of Sd1 in Japan in 18975. Here, we report a whole-genome analysis of 331 Sd1 isolates from around the world, collected between 1915 and 2011, providing us with unprecedented insight into the historical spread of this pathogen. We show here that Sd1 has existed since at least the eighteenth century and that it swept the globe at the end of the nineteenth century, diversifying into distinct lineages associated with the First World War, Second World War and various conflicts or natural disasters across Africa, Asia and Central America. We also provide a unique historical perspective on the evolution of antibiotic resistance over a 100-year period, beginning decades before the antibiotic era, and identify a prevalent multiple antibiotic-resistant lineage in South Asia that was transmitted in several waves to Africa, where it caused severe outbreaks of disease.


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