Type 1 fimbrial expression enhances Escherichia coli virulence for the urinary tract

H. Connell, W. Agace, P. Klemm, M. Schembri, S. Mårild, C. Svanborg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Type 1 fimbriae are adhesion organelles expressed by many Gram-negative bacteria. They facilitate adherence to mucosal surfaces and inflammatory cells in vitro, but their contribution to virulence has not been defined. This study presents evidence that type 1 fimbriae increase the virulence of Escherichia coli for the urinary tract by promoting bacterial persistence and enhancing the inflammatory response to infection. In a clinical study, we observed that disease severity was greater in children infected with E. coli O1:K1:H7 isolates expressing type 1 fimbriae than in those infected with type 1 negative isolates of the same serotype. The E. coli O1:K1:H7 isolates had the same electrophoretic type, were hemolysin-negative, expressed P fimbriae, and carried the fim DNA sequences. When tested in a mouse urinary tract infection model, the type 1-positive E. coli O1:K1:H7 isolates survived in higher numbers, and induced a greater neutrophil influx into the urine, than O1:K1:H7 type 1-negative isolates. To confirm a role of type 1 fimbriae, a fimH null mutant (CNI016) was constructed from an O1:K1:H7 type 1-positive parent. E. coli CNI016 had reduced survival and inflammatogenicity in the mouse urinary tract infection model. E. coli CNI016 reconstituted with type 1 fimbriae (E. coli CN1018) had restored virulence similar to that of the wild- type parent strain. These results show that type 1 fimbriae in the genetic background of a uropathogenic strain contribute to the pathogenesis of E. coli in the urinary tract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9827-9832
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume93
Issue number18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Sept 3

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Microbiology in the medical area

Free keywords

  • adherence
  • inflammation
  • neutrophil influx
  • urinary tract infection

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