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Journal of bacteriology

Altered utilization of N-acetyl-D-galactosamine by Escherichia coli O157:H7 from the 2006 spinach outbreak.


PMID 18156259

Abstract

In silico analyses of previously sequenced strains of Escherichia coli O157:H7, EDL933 and Sakai, localized the gene cluster for the utilization of N-acetyl-D-galactosamine (Aga) and D-galactosamine (Gam). This gene cluster encodes the Aga phosphoenolpyruvate:carbohydrate phosphotransferase system (PTS) and other catabolic enzymes responsible for transport and catabolism of Aga. As the complete coding sequences for enzyme IIA (EIIA)(Aga/Gam), EIIB(Aga), EIIC(Aga), and EIID(Aga) of the Aga PTS are present, E. coli O157:H7 strains normally are able to utilize Aga as a sole carbon source. The Gam PTS complex, in contrast, lacks EIIC(Gam), and consequently, E. coli O157:H7 strains cannot utilize Gam. Phenotypic analyses of 120 independent isolates of E. coli O157:H7 from our culture collection revealed that the overwhelming majority (118/120) displayed the expected Aga+ Gam- phenotype. Yet, when 194 individual isolates, derived from a 2006 spinach-associated E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, were analyzed, all (194/194) displayed an Aga- Gam- phenotype. Comparison of aga/gam sequences from two spinach isolates with those of EDL933 and Sakai revealed a single nucleotide change (G:C-->A:T) in the agaF gene in the spinach-associated isolates. The base substitution in agaF, which encodes EIIA(Aga/Gam) of the PTS, changes a conserved glycine residue to serine (Gly91Ser). Pyrosequencing of this region showed that all spinach-associated E. coli O157:H7 isolates harbored this same G:C-->A:T substitution. Notably, when agaF+ was cloned into an expression vector and transformed into six spinach isolates, all (6/6) were able to grow on Aga, thus demonstrating that the Gly91Ser substitution underlies the Aga- phenotype in these isolates.

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