Comparative Genomics of Recent Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli O104:H4: Short-Term Evolution of an Emerging Pathogen
Cerquiera, Gustavo C.
Shea, Terrence P.
Haas, Brian J.
Wortman, Jennifer R.
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CitationGrad, Yonatan H., Paul Godfrey, Gustavo C. Cerquiera, Patricia Mariani-Kurkdjian, Malika Gouali, Edouard Bingen, Terrence P. Shea, et al. 2013. Comparative genomics of recent shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O104:H4: short-term evolution of an emerging pathogen. mBio 4(1): e00452-12.
AbstractThe large outbreak of diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) caused by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O104:H4 in Europe from May to July 2011 highlighted the potential of a rarely identified E. coli serogroup to cause severe disease. Prior to the outbreak, there were very few reports of disease caused by this pathogen and thus little known of its diversity and evolution. The identification of cases of HUS caused by E. coli O104:H4 in France and Turkey after the outbreak and with no clear epidemiological links raises questions about whether these sporadic cases are derived from the outbreak. Here, we report genome sequences of five independent isolates from these cases and results of a comparative analysis with historical and 2011 outbreak isolates. These analyses revealed that the five isolates are not derived from the outbreak strain; however, they are more closely related to the outbreak strain and each other than to isolates identified prior to the 2011 outbreak. Over the short time scale represented by these closely related organisms, the majority of genome variation is found within their mobile genetic elements: none of the nine O104:H4 isolates compared here contain the same set of plasmids, and their prophages and genomic islands also differ. Moreover, the presence of closely related HUS-associated E. coli O104:H4 isolates supports the contention that fully virulent O104:H4 isolates are widespread and emphasizes the possibility of future food-borne E. coli O104:H4 outbreaks.
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