Genomic comparison of two O111:H<sup>-</sup> enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli isolates from a historic hemolytic-uremic syndrome outbreak in Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Infection and Immunity, 2016, 84 (3), pp. 775 - 781
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© 2016, American Society for Microbiology. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) is an important cause of diarrhea and hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) worldwide. Australia's worst outbreak of HUS occurred in Adelaide in 1995 and was one of the first major HUS outbreaks attributed to a non-O157 Shiga-toxigenic E. coli (STEC) strain. Molecular analyses conducted at the time suggested that the outbreak was caused by an O111:H- clone, with strains from later in the outbreak harboring an extra copy of the genes encoding the potent Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2). Two decades later, we have used next-generation sequencing to compare two isolates from early and late in this important outbreak. We analyzed genetic content, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and prophage insertion sites; for the latter, we demonstrate how paired-end sequence data can be leveraged to identify such insertion sites. The two strains are genetically identical except for six SNP differences and the presence of not one but two additional Stx2-converting prophages in the later isolate. Isolates from later in the outbreak were associated with higher levels of morbidity, suggesting that the presence of the additional Stx2-converting prophages is significant in terms of the virulence of this clone.
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