Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli: a pathogen that inserts its own receptor into host cells

Cell Mol Life Sci. 1999 Jun;55(6-7):961-76. doi: 10.1007/pl00013202.


Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) is a major cause of infant diarrhea, killing hundreds of thousands of children per year worldwide. Intimate attachment to the host cell leading to the formation of actin-rich pedestals beneath the adhering bacteria is an essential feature of EPEC pathogenesis. EPEC attaches to host cells via the outer membrane adhesin, intimin. It was recently shown that EPEC inserts its own receptor for intimate adherence, Tir (translocated intimin receptor) into the host cell membrane. The focus of this review is on the discovery and characterization of this novel receptor, and our current understanding of its role in pedestal formation. Gram-negative bacterial secretion systems, including type III secretion systems, are reviewed and discussed in the context of Tir delivery into the host cell membrane. The relationship and relevance of in vitro models compared to the actual in vivo situation is essential to understanding disease. We have critically reviewed the use of animal models in studying EPEC infection. Elucidating the function of Tir will contribute to our understanding of how EPEC mediates disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial*
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology
  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Diarrhea / microbiology*
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intercellular Junctions / physiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Microvilli / microbiology
  • Microvilli / ultrastructure
  • Peyer's Patches / microbiology
  • Rabbits
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Virulence


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • EaeB protein, E coli
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • EspA protein, E coli
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Tir protein, E coli
  • eaeA protein, E coli