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Pathogenicity Islands And Other Mobile Genetic Elements Of Diarrheagenic Escherichia Coli

J. Kaper, J. L. Mellies, J. Nataro
Published 1999 · Biology

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This chapter focuses on diarrheagenic Escherichia coli strains and the various pathogenicity islands (PAIs) and other mobile genetic elements that differentiate these pathogens from normal-flora E. coli. At least six categories of diarrheagenic E. coli strains have been defined. Five of these categories, enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), and enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC), are reviewed in the chapter. A sixth category, diffusely adherent E. coli (DAEC), is a heterogeneous group of organisms, and epidemiological studies have given conflicting results about the true clinical significance of these strains. Mobile genetic elements encoding virulence factors in human diarrheagenic E. coli are listed in the chapter. The majority of EPEC strains associated with diarrhea possess the EPEC adherence factor (EAF) plasmid and are referred to as typical EPEC strains, while EPEC strains that do not possess EAF plasmids are referred to as atypical EPEC strains. The majority of genes within this region have homology to transposons and insertion elements (IS elements), although these elements are apparently incomplete and nonfunctional. The great variety of mobile genetic elements present in diarrheagenic E. coli , including plasmids, bacteriophages, transposons, and PAIs, on a K-12 backbone with so many horizontally transferred regions indicates an enormous genomic plasticity that complicates the efforts to categorize the existing subgroups into sharply delineated pathotypes and the attempts to predict what novel combination of virulence factors may emerge in the future.
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