Genetically diverse uropathogenic Escherichia coli adopt a common transcriptional program in patients with UTIs.
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Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) is the major causative agent of uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs). A common virulence genotype of UPEC strains responsible for UTIs is yet to be defined, due to the large variation of virulence factors observed in UPEC strains. We hypothesized that studying UPEC functional responses in patients might reveal universal UPEC features that enable pathogenesis. Here we identify a transcriptional program shared by genetically diverse UPEC strains isolated from 14 patients during uncomplicated UTIs. Strikingly, this in vivo gene expression program is marked by upregulation of translational machinery, providing a mechanism for the rapid growth within the host. Our analysis indicates that switching to a more specialized catabolism and scavenging lifestyle in the host allows for the increased translational output. Our study identifies a common transcriptional program underlying UTIs and illuminates the molecular underpinnings that likely facilitate the fast growth rate of UPEC in infected patients.