Applied and environmental microbiology

Characterization of an Escherichia coli O157:H7 plasmid O157 deletion mutant and its survival and persistence in cattle.

PMID 17277224


Escherichia coli O157:H7 causes hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic-uremic syndrome in humans, and its major reservoir is healthy cattle. An F-like 92-kb plasmid, pO157, is found in most E. coli O157:H7 clinical isolates, and pO157 shares sequence similarities with plasmids present in other enterohemorrhagic E. coli serotypes. We compared wild-type (WT) E. coli O157:H7 and an isogenic DeltapO157 mutant for (i) growth rates and antibiotic susceptibilities, (ii) survival in environments with various acidity, salt, or heat conditions, (iii) protein expression, and (iv) survival and persistence in cattle following oral challenge. Growth, metabolic reactions, and antibiotic resistance of the DeltapO157 mutant were indistinguishable from those of its complement and the WT. However, in cell competition assays, the WT was more abundant than the DeltapO157 mutant. The DeltapO157 mutant was more resistant to acidic synthetic bovine gastric fluid and bile than the WT. In vivo, the DeltapO157 mutant survived passage through the bovine gastrointestinal tract better than the WT but, interestingly, did not colonize the bovine rectoanal junction mucosa as well as the WT. Many proteins were differentially expressed between the DeltapO157 mutant and the WT. Proteins from whole-cell lysates and membrane fractions of cell lysates were separated using sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Ten differentially expressed approximately 50-kDa proteins were identified by quadrupole-time of flight mass spectrometry and sequence matching with the peptide fragment database. Most of these proteins, including tryptophanase and glutamate decarboxylase isozymes, were related to survival under salvage conditions, and expression was increased by the deletion of pO157. This suggested that the genes on pO157 regulate some chromosomal genes.

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