Applied and environmental microbiology

Contributions of O island 48 to adherence of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 to epithelial cells in vitro and in ligated pig ileal loops.

PMID 19633120


O island 48 (OI-48) of Escherichia coli consists of three functional gene clusters that encode urease, tellurite resistance (Te(r)), and putative adhesins Iha and AIDA-1. The functions of these clusters in enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O157:H7 infection are unknown. Deletion mutants for these three regions were constructed and evaluated for their ability to adhere to epithelial cells in vitro and in ligated pig ileal loops. Deletion of the Te(r) gene cluster reduced the ability of the organism to adhere to and form large clusters on IPEC-J2 and HEp-2 cells. Complementation of the mutation by introducing the wild-type ter genes restored adherence and large-cluster formation. Tests in ligated pig ileal loops showed a decrease in colonization by the Te(r)-negative mutant, but the difference was not significant compared to colonization by the wild type (26.4% +/- 21.2% versus 40.1% +/- 19.1%; P = 0.168). The OI-48 aidA gene deletion had no effect on adherence in vitro or in vivo. Deletion of the iha and ureC genes had no effect on adherence in vitro but significantly reduced the colonization of EHEC O157:H7 in the ligated pig intestine. These data suggest that Te(r), Iha, and urease may contribute to EHEC O157:H7 pathogenesis by promoting adherence of the pathogen to the host intestinal epithelium.