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Virulence Potential and Genomic Mapping of the Worldwide Clone Escherichia coli ST131

Abstract : Recently, the worldwide propagation of clonal CTX-M-15-producing Escherichia coli isolates, namely ST131 and O25b:H4, has been reported. Like the majority of extra-intestinal pathogenic E. coli isolates, the pandemic clone ST131 belongs to phylogenetic group B2, and has recently been shown to be highly virulent in a mouse model, even though it lacks several genes encoding key virulence factors (Pap, Cnf1 and HlyA). Using two animal models, Caenorhabditis elegans and zebrafish embryos, we assessed the virulence of three E. coli ST131 strains (2 CTX-M-15-producing urine and 1 non-ESBL-producing faecal isolate), comparing them with five non-ST131 B2 and a group A uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC). In C. elegans, the three ST131 strains showed intermediate virulence between the non virulent group A isolate and the virulent non-ST131 B2 strains. In zebrafish, the CTX-M-15-producing ST131 UPEC isolates were also less virulent than the non-ST131 B2 strains, suggesting that the production of CTX-M-15 is not correlated with enhanced virulence. Amongst the non-ST131 B2 group isolates, variation in pathogenic potential in zebrafish embryos was observed ranging from intermediate to highly virulent. Interestingly, the ST131 strains were equally persistent in surviving embryos as the non-ST131-group B2 strains, suggesting similar mechanisms may account for development of persistent infection. Optical maps of the genome of the ST131 strains were compared with those of 24 reference E. coli strains. Although small differences were seen within the ST131 strains, the tree built on the optical maps showed that these strains belonged to a specific cluster (86% similarity) with only 45% similarity with the other group B2 strains and 25% with strains of group A and D. Thus, the ST131 clone has a genetic composition that differs from other group B2 strains, and appears to be less virulent than previously suspected.
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Jean-Philippe Lavigne, Annette Vergunst, Lucie Goret, Albert Sotto, Christophe Combescure, et al.. Virulence Potential and Genomic Mapping of the Worldwide Clone Escherichia coli ST131. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2012, 7 (3), pp.e34294. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0034294⟩. ⟨hal-02381154⟩

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