Type 2 secretion promotes enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli adherence and intestinal colonization

Infect Immun. 2008 May;76(5):1858-65. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01688-07. Epub 2008 Mar 3.


Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) is a noninvasive food-borne pathogen that colonizes the distal ileum and colon. Proteins encoded in the EHEC locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) pathogenicity island are known to contribute to this pathogen's adherence to epithelial cells and intestinal colonization. The role of non-LEE-encoded proteins in these processes is not as clear. We found that the Z2053 gene (designated adfO here), a gene located in a cryptic EHEC prophage, exhibits similarity to adherence and/or colonization factor genes found in several other enteric pathogens. An EHEC adfO mutant exhibited marked reductions in adherence to HeLa cells and in the secretion of several proteins into the supernatant. YodA, one of these secreted proteins, was found to be a substrate of the EHEC pO157-encoded type 2 secretion system (T2SS). Both the T2SS and YodA proved to be essential for EHEC adherence to cultured HeLa cell monolayers. Using an infant rabbit model of infection, we found that the adfO mutation did not affect colonization but that the colonization of an etpC (T2SS) mutant was reduced approximately 5-fold. A strain deficient in YodA had a more severe colonization defect; however, this strain also exhibited a growth defect in vitro. Overall, our findings indicate that the pO157-encoded T2SS contributes to EHEC adherence and intestinal colonization and thus show that EHEC pathogenicity depends on type 2 secretion as well as type 3 secretion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion / genetics
  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli / physiology*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / physiology*
  • Gene Deletion
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Rabbits
  • Virulence
  • Virulence Factors / genetics
  • Virulence Factors / physiology*


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • EtpC protein, E coli
  • Virulence Factors
  • ZinT protein, E coli