Discrimination of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) from non-EHEC strains based on detection of various combinations of type III effector genes

Delannoy, S.; Beutin, L.; Fach, P.

Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) strains comprise a subgroup of Shiga-toxin (Stx)-producing E. coli (STEC) and are characterized by a few serotypes. Among these, seven priority STEC serotypes (O26:H11, O45:H2, O103:H2, O111:H8, O121:H19, O145:H28, and O157:H7) are most frequently implicated in severe clinical illness worldwide. Currently, standard methods using stx, eae, and O-serogroup-specific gene sequences for detecting the top 7 EHEC serotypes bear the disadvantage that these genes can be found in non-EHEC strains as well. Here, we explored the suitability of ureD, espV, espK, espN, Z2098, and espM1 genes and combinations thereof as candidates for a more targeted EHEC screening assay. For a very large panel of E. coli strains (n = 1,100), which comprised EHEC (n = 340), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) (n = 392), STEC (n = 193), and apathogenic strains (n = 175), we showed that these genetic markers were more prevalent in EHEC (67.1% to 92.4%) than in EPEC (13.3% to 45.2%), STEC (0.5% to 3.6%), and apathogenic E. coli strains (0 to 2.9%). It is noteworthy that 38.5% of the EPEC strains that tested positive for at least one of these genetic markers belonged to the top 7 EHEC serotypes, suggesting that such isolates might be Stx-negative derivatives of EHEC. The associations of espK with either espV, ureD, or Z2098 were the best combinations for more specific and sensitive detection of the top 7 EHEC strains, allowing detection of 99.3% to 100% of these strains. In addition, detection of 93.7% of the EHEC strains belonging to other serotypes than the top 7 offers a possibility for identifying new emerging EHEC strains

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Delannoy, S. / Beutin, L. / Fach, P.: Discrimination of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) from non-EHEC strains based on detection of various combinations of type III effector genes. 2013.

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