A DNA microarray was used to analyze the distribution of plasmid and chromosomal genes among strains of enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) isolated from a prospective diarrhoea surveillance study in the United Kingdom. Target genes were extracted from existing databases and from the genome sequence of prototype EAEC strain 042. We found that strains exhibiting the aggregative adherence (AA) phenotype could be broadly divided into two groups depending upon whether they harboured genes from the EAEC virulence plasmid (pAA) and a set of chromosomal genes found in EAEC strain 042. Several chromosomal loci were inherited en bloc, and were more common in strains which we designated Group 1; genes at the pheU locus were particularly conserved. Genes encoded on the pAA plasmid and those under control of the master regulator AggR were also concentrated in the Group 1 EAEC. A gene encoding a type 1 pilin allele was detected more frequently in Group 2 EAEC. Our data suggest that strains previously designated as typical EAEC harbour a large number of conserved plasmid and chromosomal loci, further illuminating a package of virulence genes common to the most important EAEC.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology