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Diverse virulence gene content of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli from finishing swine

Marion Tseng, Pina M. Fratamico, Lori Bagi, Sabine Delannoy, Patrick Fach, Shannon D. Manning, Julie A. Funk
Applied and environmental microbiology 2014 v.80 no.20 pp. 6395-6402
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, adhesins, barns, essential genes, finishing, genetic relationships, longitudinal studies, pathotypes, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, serotypes, strain differences, swine, virulence
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections are a critical public health concern because they can cause severe clinical outcomes, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome, in humans. Determining the presence or absence of virulence genes is essential in assessing the potential pathogenicity of STEC strains. Currently, there is limited information about the virulence genes carried by swine STEC strains; therefore, this study was conducted to examine the presence and absence of 69 virulence genes in STEC strains recovered previously from finishing swine in a longitudinal study. A subset of STEC strains was analyzed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to examine their genetic relatedness. Swine STEC strains (n150) were analyzed by the use of a high-throughput real-time PCR array system, which included 69 virulence gene targets. Three major pathotypes consisted of 16 different combinations of virulence gene profiles, and serotypes were determined in the swine STEC strains. The majority of the swine STEC strains (n120) belonged to serotype O59:H21 and carried the same virulence gene profile, which consisted of 9 virulence genes: stx2e, iha, ecs1763, lpfAO113, estIa (STa), ehaA, paa, terE, and ureD. The eae, nleF, and nleH1-2 genes were detected in one swine STEC strain (O49:H21). Other genes encoding adhesins, including iha, were identified (n149). The PFGE results demonstrated that swine STEC strains from pigs raised in the same finishing barn were closely related. Our results revealed diverse virulence gene contents among the members of the swine STEC population and enhance understanding of the dynamics of transmission of STEC strains among pigs housed in the same barn.