Escherichia coli O157:H7 gene expression in the presence of catecholamine norepinephrine

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2007 Aug;273(2):214-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2007.00800.x. Epub 2007 Jun 15.


Various forms of host stresses (e.g. physiological, psychological) are thought to influence susceptibility to pathogenic microorganisms. Catecholamines such as norepinephrine are released into the GI environment during acute stress and may influence the infective process of bacterial pathogens associated with the GI tract. To examine the effects of norepinephrine on expression of virulence factors in Escherichia coli O157:H7, the clinical-type isolate EDL933 (ATCC 43895) was grown in serum-Standard American Petroleum Institute media in the presence or absence of norepinephrine. After 5 h of exposure to norepinephrine, treatment and control cultures (not exposed to norepinephrine) were harvested, their RNA isolated, and gene expression evaluated. There was a dramatic increase in the expression of virulence factor transcripts including stx1, stx2, and eae. Also induced were transcripts involved in iron metabolism. Conversely, there was comparative repression of iron acquisition and phage shock protein-related transcripts in the presence of norepinephrine. Novel observations from these data suggested that exposure to norepinephrine induced glutamate decarboxylase acid resistance as well as an SOS response in E. coli O157:H7. The results corroborate many of the previous findings detailed in the literature and provide new observations that could expand the scope of microbial endocrinology.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Escherichia coli O157 / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli O157 / genetics
  • Escherichia coli O157 / pathogenicity
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / drug effects*
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Norepinephrine / pharmacology*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • SOS Response, Genetics
  • Virulence Factors / genetics*


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Virulence Factors
  • Iron
  • Norepinephrine