Escherichia coli is the most common cause of complicated as well as uncomplicated urinary tract infec-tions (UTIs). Most of these uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) strains exhibit certain virulence factors (VFs), including ad-hesins, iron uptake systems, synthesis of cytotoxins, and specifi c O:K:H serotypes. Molecular epidemiological stud-ies of UPEC have contributed to the discovery of uropatho-genic VFs, to an understanding of the pathogenesis of UTIs as ascending infections, and to the clarifi cation of genetic linkages between different virulence genes such as patho-genicity islands (PAIs), which are one of the mechanisms for horizontal VF gene transfers between the same or related species. Uropathogenic VFs not only play an important role individually but also work cooperatively in a fi ne-tuned manner with coordinated regulation and expression.
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