Identification of a modular pathogenicity island that is widespread among urease-producing uropathogens and shares features with a diverse group of mobile elements

  • Flannery E
  • Mody L
  • Mobley H
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Pathogenicity islands (PAIs) are a specific group of genomic islands that contribute to genomic variability and virulence of bacterial pathogens. Using a strain-specific comparative genomic hybridization array, we report the identification of a 94-kb PAI, designated ICEPm1, that is common to Proteus mirabilis, Providencia stuartii, and Morganella morganii. These organisms are highly prevalent etiologic agents of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (caUTI), the most common hospital acquired infection. ICEPm1 carries virulence factors that are important for colonization of the urinary tract, including a known toxin (Proteus toxic agglutinin) and the high pathogenicity island of Yersinia spp. In addition, this PAI shares homology and gene organization similar to the PAIs of other bacterial pathogens, several of which have been classified as mobile integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs). Isolates from this study were cultured from patients with caUTI and show identical sequence similarity at three loci within ICEPm1, suggesting its transfer between bacterial genera. Screening for the presence of ICEPm1 among P. mirabilis colonizing isolates showed that ICEPm1 is more prevalent in urine isolates compared to P. mirabilis strains isolated from other body sites (P

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