DNA Sequencing and Identification of Serogroup-Specific Genes in the Escherichia coli O118 O Antigen Gene Cluster and Demonstration of Antigenic Diversity But Only Minor Variation in DNA Sequence of the O Antigen Clusters of E. coli O118 and O151
Foodborne pathogens and disease
The DNA sequence of the O antigen gene cluster of an Escherichia coli serogroup O118 strain was determined, and 13 open reading frames (ORFs) were identified, encoding genes required for O antigen sugar biosynthesis, transfer, and processing. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays targeting the wzx (O antigen flippase) and wzy (O antigen polymerase) genes in the O antigen gene cluster of E. coli O118 were designed for identification of these serogroups. Specificity testing using strains
... ing strains belonging to E. coli O118 isolated from various sources, representative strains of 167 other E. coli O serogroups, and 20 non-E. coli bacteria revealed that the PCR assays were specific for E. coli O118. Thus, the PCR assays can be used for rapid identification of E. coli O118 as an alterative to typing using antisera. However, the PCR assays targeting the E. coli O118 wzx and wzy genes were also positive using E. coli serogroup O151 DNA. Therefore, the sequence of the O antigen gene cluster of E. coli O151 was determined, and it was very similar to that of E. coli O118, with only three nucleotide differences. Although the lipopolysaccharide profiles of O118 and O151 showed differences, multilocus sequence typing of E. coli O118 and O151 strains only revealed minor variation at the nucleotide level. Since E. coli O118 strains are more frequently isolated from humans, animals, and the environment than E. coli O151, serogroup O151 may likely be a minor variant of E. coli O118. Further studies are needed to elucidate this possibility.