Adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) have been involved in Crohn's disease (CD). Currently, AIEC are identified by time-consuming techniques based on in vitro infection of cell lines to determine their ability to adhere to and invade intestinal epithelial cells as well as to survive and replicate within macrophages. Our aim was to find signature sequences that can be used to identify the AIEC pathotype. Comparative genomics was performed between three E. coli strain pairs, each pair comprised one AIEC and one non-AIEC with identical pulsotype, sequence type and virulence gene carriage. Genetic differences were further analysed in 22 AIEC and 28 non-AIEC isolated from CD patients and controls. The strain pairs showed similar genome structures, and no gene was specific to AIEC. Three single nucleotide polymorphisms displayed different nucleotide distributions between AIEC and non-AIEC, and four correlated with increased adhesion and/or invasion indices. Here, we present a classification algorithm based on the identification of three allelic variants that can predict the AIEC phenotype with 84% accuracy. Our study corroborates the absence of an AIEC-specific genetic marker distributed across all AIEC strains. Nonetheless, point mutations putatively involved in the AIEC phenotype can be used for the molecular identification of the AIEC pathotype.
Journal: Scientific reports