Association of Nucleotide Polymorphisms within the O-Antigen Gene Cluster of Escherichia coli O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145 with Serogroups and Genetic Subtypes
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Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains are important food-borne pathogens capable of causing hemolytic-uremic syndrome. STEC O157:H7 strains cause the majority of severe disease in the United States; however, there is a growing concern for the amount and severity of illness attributable to non-O157 STEC. Recently, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published the intent to regulate the presence of STEC belonging to serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145 in nonintact beef products. To ensure the effective control of these bacteria, sensitive and specific tests for their detection will be needed. In this study, we identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the O-antigen gene cluster that could be used to detect STEC strains of the above-described serogroups. Using comparative DNA sequence analysis, we identified 22 potentially informative SNPs among 164 STEC and non-STEC strains of the above-described serogroups and designed matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF) assays to test the STEC allele frequencies in an independent panel of bacterial strains. We found at least one SNP that was specific to each serogroup and also differentiated between STEC and non-STEC strains. Differences in the DNA sequence of the O-antigen gene cluster corresponded well with differences in the virulence gene profiles and provided evidence of different lineages for STEC and non-STEC strains. The SNPs discovered in this study can be used to develop tests that will not only accurately identify O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145 strains but also predict whether strains detected in the above-described serogroups contain Shiga toxin-encoding genes.
author list (cited authors)
Norman, K. N., Strockbine, N. A., & Bono, J. L.