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Quantitative analysis and virulence phenotypes of atypical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) acquired from diarrheal stool samples from a Midwest US hospital.

Gut microbes (2020-11-03)
M J Carlino, S E Kralicek, S A Santiago, L M Sitaraman, A T Harrington, Gail A Hecht
ABSTRACT

Infectious diarrhea causes approximately 179 million illnesses annually in the US. Multiplex PCR assays for enteric pathogens detect enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) in 12-29% of diarrheal stool samples from all age groups in developed nations. The aim of this study was to isolate and characterize EPEC from diarrhea samples identified as EPEC positive by BioFire Gastrointestinal Panel (GIP). EPEC is the second most common GIP-detected pathogen, equally present in sole and mixed infections peaking during summer months. EPEC bacterial load is higher in samples with additional pathogens. EPEC-GIP-positive stool samples were cultured on MacConkey II agar and analyzed by colony PCR for eaeA and bfpA to identify and classify EPEC isolates as typical (tEPEC) or atypical (aEPEC). EPEC were not recovered from the majority of stool samples with only 61 isolates obtained from 277 samples; most were aEPEC from adults. bfpA-mRNA was severely diminished in 3 of 4 bfpA-positive isolates. HeLa and SKCO-15 epithelial cells were infected with EPEC isolates and virulence-associated phenotypes, including adherence pattern, attachment level, pedestal formation, and tight junction disruption, were assessed. All aEPEC adherence patterns were represented with diffuse adherence predominating. Attachment rates of isolates adhering with defined adherence patterns were higher than tEPEC lacking bfpA (ΔbfpA). The majority of isolates formpedestals. All but one isolate initially increases but ultimately decreases transepithelial electrical resistance of SKCO-15 monolayers, similar to ΔbfpA. Most isolates severely disrupt occludin; ZO-1 disruption is variable. Most aEPEC isolates induce more robust virulence-phenotypes in vitro than ΔbfpA, but less than tEPEC-E2348/69.