Escherichia coli O157:H7 Lacking the qseBC-Encoded Quorum-Sensing System Outcompetes the Parental Strain in Colonization of Cattle Intestines
- Applied and environmental microbiology 2014 v.80 no.6 pp. 1882-1892
- Escherichia coli O157, animal models, bacterial colonization, bacterial motility, calves, epinephrine, excretion, fimbriae, gene expression, genes, intestines, loci, mutants, norepinephrine, quorum sensing, transcription (genetics), virulence
- The qseBC-encoded quorum-sensing system regulates the motility of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in response to bacterial autoinducer 3 (AI-3) and the mammalian stress hormones epinephrine (E) and norepinephrine (NE). The qseC gene encodes a sensory kinase that autophosphorylates in response to AI-3, E, or NE and subsequently phosphorylates its cognate response regulator QseB. In the absence of QseC, QseB downregulates bacterial motility and virulence in animal models. In this study, we found that 8- to 10-month-old calves orally inoculated with a mixture of E. coli O157:H7 and its isogenic qseBC mutant showed significantly higher fecal shedding of the qseBC mutant. In vitro analysis revealed similar growth profiles and motilities of the qseBC mutant and the parental strain in the presence or absence of NE. The magnitudes of the response to NE and expression of flagellar genes flhD and fliC were also similar for the qseBC mutant and the parental strain. The expression of ler (a positive regulator of the locus of enterocyte effacement [LEE]), the ler-regulated espA gene, and the csgA gene (encoding curli fimbriae) was increased in the qseBC mutant compared to the parental strain. On the other hand, growth, motility, and transcription of flhD, fliC, ler, espA, and csgA were significantly reduced in the qseBC mutant complemented with a plasmid-cloned copy of the qseBC genes. Thus, in vitro motility and gene expression data indicate that the near-parental level of motility, ability to respond to NE, and enhanced expression of LEE and curli genes might in part be responsible for increased colonization and fecal shedding of the qseBC mutant in calves.