Diversity of Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O26:H11 Strains Examined via stx Subtypes and Insertion Sites of Stx and EspK Bacteriophages.Appl Environ Microbiol. 2015 Jun; 81(11):3712-21.AE
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is a food-borne pathogen that may be responsible for severe human infections. Only a limited number of serotypes, including O26:H11, are involved in the majority of serious cases and outbreaks. The main virulence factors, Shiga toxins (Stx), are encoded by bacteriophages. Seventy-four STEC O26:H11 strains of various origins (including human, dairy, and cattle) were characterized for their stx subtypes and Stx phage chromosomal insertion sites. The majority of food and cattle strains possessed the stx(1a) subtype, while human strains carried mainly stx(1a) or stx(2a). The wrbA and yehV genes were the main Stx phage insertion sites in STEC O26:H11, followed distantly by yecE and sbcB. Interestingly, the occurrence of Stx phages inserted in the yecE gene was low in dairy strains. In most of the 29 stx-negative E. coli O26:H11 strains also studied here, these bacterial insertion sites were vacant. Multilocus sequence typing of 20 stx-positive or stx-negative E. coli O26:H11 strains showed that they were distributed into two phylogenetic groups defined by sequence type 21 (ST21) and ST29. Finally, an EspK-carrying phage was found inserted in the ssrA gene in the majority of the STEC O26:H11 strains but in only a minority of the stx-negative E. coli O26:H11 strains. The differences in the stx subtypes and Stx phage insertion sites observed in STEC O26:H11 according to their origin might reflect that strains circulating in cattle and foods are clonally distinct from those isolated from human patients.