Low-density macroarray targeting non-locus of enterocyte effacement effectors (nle genes) and major virulence factors of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC): a new approach for molecular risk assessment of STEC isolates.Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 Jan; 76(1):203-11.AE
Rapid and specific detection of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains with a high level of virulence for humans has become a priority for public health authorities. This study reports on the development of a low-density macroarray for simultaneously testing the genes stx1, stx2, eae, and ehxA and six different nle genes issued from genomic islands OI-122 (ent, nleB, and nleE) and OI-71 (nleF, nleH1-2, and nleA). Various strains of E. coli isolated from the environment, food, animals, and healthy children have been compared with clinical isolates of various seropathotypes. The eae gene was detected in all enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) strains as well as in enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) strains, except in EHEC O91:H21 and EHEC O113:H21. The gene ehxA was more prevalent in EHEC (90%) than in STEC (42.66%) strains, in which it was unequally distributed. The nle genes were detected only in some EPEC and EHEC strains but with various distributions, showing that nle genes are strain and/or serotype specific, probably reflecting adaptation of the strains to different hosts or environmental niches. One characteristic nle gene distribution in EHEC O157:[H7], O111:[H8], O26:[H11], O103:H25, O118:[H16], O121:[H19], O5:H-, O55:H7, O123:H11, O172:H25, and O165:H25 was ent/espL2, nleB, nleE, nleF, nleH1-2, nleA. (Brackets indicate genotyping of the flic or rfb genes.) A second nle pattern (ent/espL2, nleB, nleE, nleH1-2) was characteristic of EHEC O103:H2, O145:[H28], O45:H2, and O15:H2. The presence of eae, ent/espL2, nleB, nleE, and nleH1-2 genes is a clear signature of STEC strains with high virulence for humans.