Clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) diversity and virulence factor distribution in avian Escherichia coli.Res Microbiol. 2017 Feb - Mar; 168(2):147-156.RM
In order to investigate the diverse characteristics of clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) arrays and the distribution of virulence factor genes in avian Escherichia coli, 80 E. coli isolates obtained from chickens with avian pathogenic E. coli (APEC) or avian fecal commensal E. coli (AFEC) were identified. Using the multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR), five genes were subjected to phylogenetic typing and examined for CRISPR arrays to study genetic relatedness among the strains. The strains were further analyzed for CRISPR loci and virulence factor genes to determine a possible association between their CRISPR elements and their potential virulence. The strains were divided into five phylogenetic groups: A, B1, B2, D and E. It was confirmed that two types of CRISPR arrays, CRISPR1 and CRISPR2, which contain up to 246 distinct spacers, were amplified in most of the strains. Further classification of the isolates was achieved by sorting them into nine CRISPR clusters based on their spacer profiles, which indicates a candidate typing method for E. coli. Several significant differences in invasion-associated gene distribution were found between the APEC isolates and the AFEC isolates. Our results identified the distribution of 11 virulence genes and CRISPR diversity in 80 strains. It was demonstrated that, with the exception of iucD and aslA, there was no sharp demarcation in the gene distribution between the pathogenic (APEC) and commensal (AFEC) strains, while the total number of indicated CRISPR spacers may have a positive correlation with the potential pathogenicity of the E. coli isolates.