Host-specific induction of Escherichia coli fitness genes during human urinary tract infection. Academic Article uri icon


  • Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) is the predominant etiological agent of uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI), manifested by inflammation of the urinary bladder, in humans and is a major global public health concern. Molecular pathogenesis of UPEC has been primarily examined using murine models of UTI. Translational research to develop novel therapeutics against this major pathogen, which is becoming increasingly antibiotic resistant, requires a thorough understanding of mechanisms involved in pathogenesis during human UTIs. Total RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) and comparative transcriptional analysis of UTI samples to the UPEC isolates cultured in human urine and laboratory medium were used to identify novel fitness genes that were specifically expressed during human infection. Evidence for UPEC genes involved in ion transport, including copper efflux, nickel and potassium import systems, as key fitness factors in uropathogenesis were generated using an experimental model of UTI. Translational application of this study was investigated by targeting Cus, a bacterial copper efflux system. Copper supplementation in drinking water reduces E. coli colonization in the urinary bladder of mice. Additionally, our results suggest that anaerobic processes in UPEC are involved in promoting fitness during UTI in humans. In summary, RNA-seq was used to establish the transcriptional signature in UPEC during naturally occurring, community acquired UTI in women and multiple novel fitness genes used by UPEC during human infection were identified. The repertoire of UPEC genes involved in UTI presented here will facilitate further translational studies to develop innovative strategies against UTI caused by UPEC.

published proceedings

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

altmetric score

  • 57.774

author list (cited authors)

  • Subashchandrabose, S., Hazen, T. H., Brumbaugh, A. R., Himpsl, S. D., Smith, S. N., Ernst, R. D., Rasko, D. A., & Mobley, H.

citation count

  • 149

complete list of authors

  • Subashchandrabose, Sargurunathan||Hazen, Tracy H||Brumbaugh, Ariel R||Himpsl, Stephanie D||Smith, Sara N||Ernst, Robert D||Rasko, David A||Mobley, Harry LT

publication date

  • December 2014