Duplication and diversification of a unique chromosomal virulence island hosting the subtilase cytotoxin in Escherichia coli ST58.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Microbial genomics, 2020, 6, (6), pp. 1-8
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The AB5 cytotoxins are important virulence factors in Escherichia coli. The most notable members of the AB5 toxin families include Shiga toxin families 1 (Stx1) and 2 (Stx2), which are associated with enterohaemorrhagic E. coli infections causing haemolytic uraemic syndrome and haemorrhagic colitis. The subAB toxins are the newest and least well understood members of the AB5 toxin gene family. The subtilase toxin genes are divided into a plasmid-based variant, subAB1, originally described in enterohaemorrhagic E. coli O113:H21, and distinct chromosomal variants, subAB2, that reside in pathogenicity islands encoding additional virulence effectors. Previously we identified a chromosomal subAB2 operon within an E. coli ST58 strain IBS28 (ONT:H25) taken from a wild ibis nest at an inland wetland in New South Wales, Australia. Here we show the subAB2 toxin operon comprised part of a 140 kb tRNA-Phe chromosomal island that co-hosted tia, encoding an outer-membrane protein that confers an adherence and invasion phenotype and additional virulence and accessory genetic content that potentially originated from known virulence island SE-PAI. This island shared a common evolutionary history with a secondary 90 kb tRNA-Phe pathogenicity island that was presumably generated via a duplication event. IBS28 is closely related [200 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)] to four North American ST58 strains. The close relationship between North American isolates of ST58 and IBS28 was further supported by the identification of the only copy of a unique variant of IS26 within the O-antigen gene cluster. Strain ISB28 may be a historically important E. coli ST58 genome sequence hosting a progenitor pathogenicity island encoding subAB.
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