Bacterial type III secretion systems (T3SSs) play an important role in pathogenesis of Gram-negative infections. Enteropathogenic and enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli contain a well-defined T3SS but in addition a second T3SS termed E. coli T3SS 2 (ETT2) has been described in a number of strains of E. coli. The majority of pathogenic E. coli contain elements of a genetic locus encoding ETT2, but which has undergone significant mutational attrition rendering it without predicted function. Only a very few strains have been reported to contain an intact ETT2 locus. To investigate the occurrence of the ETT2 locus in strains of human pathogenic E. coli, we carried out genomic sequencing of 162 isolates obtained from patient blood cultures in Scotland. We found that 22 of 26 sequence type (ST) 69 isolates from this collection contained an intact ETT2 together with an associated eip locus which encodes putative secreted ETT2 effectors as well as eilA, a gene encoding a putative transcriptional regulator of ETT2 associated genes. Using a reporter gene for eilA activation, we defined conditions under which this gene was differentially activated. Analysis of published E. coli genomes with worldwide representation showed that ST69 contained an intact ETT2 in these strains as well. The conservation of the genes encoding ETT2 in human pathogenic ST69 strains strongly suggests it has importance in infection, although its exact functional role remains obscure.
- Bacterial genetics
- Genetics research