Role of Ethanolamine Utilization Genes in Host Colonization during Urinary Tract Infection.
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Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the second most common infection in humans, making it a global health priority. Nearly half of all women will experience a symptomatic UTI, with uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) being the major causative agent of the infection. Although there has been extensive research on UPEC virulence determinants, the importance of host-specific metabolism remains understudied. We report here that UPEC upregulates the expression of ethanolamine utilization genes during uncomplicated UTIs in humans. We further show that UPEC ethanolamine metabolism is required for effective bladder colonization in the mouse model of ascending UTI and is dispensable for bladder colonization in an immunocompromised mouse model of UTI. We demonstrate that although ethanolamine metabolism mutants do not show increased susceptibility to antimicrobial responses of neutrophils, this metabolic pathway is important for surviving the innate immune system during UTI. This study reveals a novel aspect of UPEC metabolism in the host and provides evidence for an underappreciated link between bacterial metabolism and the host immune response.