Characterization of a novel plasmid encoding F4-like fimbriae present in a Shiga-toxin producing enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli isolated during the investigation on a case of hemolytic-uremic syndrome

Valeria Michelacci, Antonella Maugliani, Rosangela Tozzoli, Giulia Corteselli, Paola Chiani, Fabio Minelli, Federica Gigliucci, Silvia Arancia, Gabriella Conedera, Chiara Targhetta, Alessandro Pierasco, Lucia Collini, Antonio Parisi, Gaia Scavia, Stefano Morabito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In February 2017 a case of Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome (HUS) was reported to the National Registry of HUS in an adult living in Northern Italy. Stool specimens from the patient and his family contacts were collected and the analyses led to the isolation of a Locus of Enterocyte Effacement (LEE)-negative Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2)-producing Escherichia coli. The epidemiological investigations performed brought to collect fecal samples from the animals reared in a farm held by the case's family and a mixture of bovine and swine feces proved positive for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) and yielded the isolation of a LEE-negative stx2-positive E. coli strain. Further characterization by whole genome sequencing led to identify the isolates as two identical O2:H27 hybrid Enterotoxigenic Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (ETEC-STEC). Sequencing of a high molecular weight plasmid present in the human isolate disclosed a peculiar plasmid harboring virulence genes characteristic for both pathotypes, including the enterohemolysin-coding gene and sta1, encoding the heat stable enterotoxin. Moreover, a complete fae locus encoding the ETEC F4 fimbriae could be identified, including a novel variant of faeG gene responsible for the production of the main structural subunit of the fimbriae. This novel faeG showed great diversity in the nucleotidic sequence when compared with the reference genes encoding the swine F4 allelic variants, whereas at the amino acid sequence level the predicted protein sequence showed some similarity with FaeG from E. coli strains of bovine origin. Further investigation on the plasmid region harboring the newly identified faeG allelic variant allowed to identify similar plasmids in NCBI sequence database, as part of the genome of other previously uncharacterized ETEC-STEC strains of bovine origin, suggesting that the novel F4-like fimbriae may play a role in bovine host specificity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-955
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Microbiology
Volume308
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2018

Keywords

  • ETEC
  • Fimbriae
  • Hybrid STEC
  • Plasmid
  • Virulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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