Horizontal gene transfer of the Escherichia coli pap and prs pili operons as a mechanism for the development of tissue-specific adhesive properties

Mol Microbiol. 1992 Aug;6(16):2225-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.1992.tb01399.x.


Escherichia coli strains bind to Gal alpha 1-4Gal-containing glycolipids via P pili-associated G-adhesins. Three functional classes of adhesins with different binding specificities are encoded by conserved G-alleles. We suggest that the Class I papG-allele of strain J96 is a novel acquisition possibly introduced via horizontal gene transfer into one of the two P pili gene clusters carried by this strain. Closely related strains in the ECOR collection of natural E. coli isolates carry either a Class II or a Class III G-adhesin. Data indicate that genetic exchanges involving either entire pap or prs gene clusters or individual pap/prs genes have occurred. We propose that the retention and spread of pap/prs DNA among E. coli is the result of selection pressure exerted by mammalian intestinal isoreceptors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Escherichia coli
  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion / genetics*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Operon*
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Sequence Homology
  • Transfection*


  • Adhesins, Escherichia coli
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X62137
  • GENBANK/X62138
  • GENBANK/X62139
  • GENBANK/X62157
  • GENBANK/X62158