FEMS microbiology letters

Novel genetic markers define a subgroup of pathogenic Escherichia coli strains belonging to the B2 phylogenetic group.

PMID 26459886


The B2 phylogenetic group of Escherichia coli contains important pathogens such as extraintestinal pathogenic, adherent-invasive, and uropathogenic strains. In this study, we used comparative genomics and statistical methods to identify genetic variations that define a subset of pathogenic strains belonging to the B2 phylogenetic group. An initial proof of concept analysis indicated that five of the 62 E. coli strains available in the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes database showed close association with B2 adherent-invasive E. coli, forming a subgroup within the B2 phylogenetic group. The tool, kSNP which uses a k-mer approach, and the statistical phenotype prediction tool PPFS2 were then employed to identify 29 high-resolution SNPs, which reaffirmed this grouping. PPFS2 analysis also provided indications that the clustering of this subgroup was highly consistent, and thus, could have a strong phenotypic basis rather than being only evolutionary. Protein homology analyses identified three proteins to be conserved across this subgrouping, two CRISPR-Cas proteins and a hypothetical protein. Functional analyses of these genetic and protein variations may provide insights into the phenotype of these strains.