Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) is emerging as a significant diarrheal pathogen in multiple population groups. Although most commonly associated with pediatric diarrhea in developing countries, EAEC is also linked to diarrhea in adults including HIV-positive patients and travelers and has been a cause of food-borne outbreaks in the industrialized world. Current data suggest that one set of virulence elements is not associated with all EAEC strains, but that combinations of multiple factors prevail. Pathogenesis is believed to be initiated with adherence to the terminal ileum and colon in an aggregative, stacked-brick-type pattern by means of one of several different hydrophobic aggregative adherence fimbriae. Some strains of EAEC may then elaborate cytotoxins including the plasmid-encoded toxin and the enterotoxins, EAST1 and ShET1. An AraC homolog termed AggR regulates several genes contributing to fimbrial biogenesis in 'typical EAEC strains'. AggR has now also been shown to regulate genes on a chromosomal island. Sequencing of the EAEC type strain 042 completed at the Sanger Center has revealed two other chromosomal islands that are being explored for their pathogenetic potential. This article reviews these virulence elements and presents on-going areas of research in EAEC pathogenesis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology