Distinct mutations led to inactivation of type 1 fimbriae expression in Shigella spp

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Shigella spp. are responsible for bacillary dysentery in humans. The acquisition or the modification of the virulence plasmid encoding factors promoting entry of bacteria into and dissemination within epithelial cells was a critical step in the evolution of these bacteria from their Escherichia coli ancestor(s). Incorporation of genomic islands (GI) and gene inactivation also shaped interactions between these pathogens and their human host. Sequence analysis of the GI inserted next to the leuX tRNA gene in S. boydii, S. dysenteriae, S. flexneri, S. sonnei and enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC) suggests that this region initially carried the fec, yjhATS and fim gene clusters. The fim cluster encoding type I fimbriae is systematically inactivated in both reference strains and clinical isolates and distinct mutations are responsible for this inactivation in at least three phylogenetic groups. To investigate consequences of the presence of fimbriae on the outcome of the interaction of Shigella with host cells, we used a S. flexneri strain harboring a plasmid encoding the E. coli fim operon. Production of fimbriae by this recombinant strain increased the ability of bacteria to adhere to and enter into epithelial cells and had no effect on their ability to disseminate from cell to cell. The observations that production of type I fimbriae increases invasion of epithelial cells and that independent mutations abolish fimbriae production in Shigella suggest that these mutations correspond to pathoadaptive events.




Bravo, V., Puhar, A., Sansonetti, P., Parsot, C., & Toro, C. S. (2015). Distinct mutations led to inactivation of type 1 fimbriae expression in Shigella spp. PLoS ONE, 10(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0121785

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