Full Sequence and Comparative Analysis of the Plasmid pAPEC-1 of Avian Pathogenic E. Coli chi7122 (O78:K80:H9)

PLoS One. 2009;4(1):e4232. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004232. Epub 2009 Jan 21.


Background: Extra-intestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC), including Avian Pathogenic E. coli (APEC), are very diverse. They cause a complex of diseases in Human, animals, and birds. Even though large plasmids are often associated with the virulence of ExPEC, their characterization is still in its infancy.

Methodology/principal findings: We fully sequenced and analyzed the large plasmid pAPEC-1 (103,275-bp) associated with the APEC strain chi7122, from worldwide serogroup O78ratioK80ratioH9. A putative virulence region spanning an 80-kb region of pAPEC-1 possesses four iron acquisition systems (iutA iucABCD, sitABCD, iroBCDN, and temperature-sensitive hemagglutinin tsh), a colicin V operon, increasing serum sensitivity iss, ompT, hlyF, and etsABC. Thirty three ORFs in pAPEC-1 are identified as insertion sequences (ISs) that belong to nine families with diverse origins. The full length of the transfer region in pAPEC-1 (11 kb) is shorter compared to the tra region of other sequenced F plasmids; the absence of some tra genes in pAPEC-1 affects its self-transferability, and the conjugative function of the plasmid was effective only in the presence of other plasmids. Two-replicon systems, repFIIA-repFIC and repFIB, and two post-segregational systems, srnB and hok/sok, are also present in the sequence of pAPEC-1. The comparison of the pAPEC-1 sequence with the two available plasmid sequences reveals more gene loss and reorganization than previously appreciated. The presence of pAPEC-1-associated genes is assessed in human ExPEC by PCR. Many patterns of association between genes are found.

Conclusions/significance: The pathotype typical of pAPEC-1 was present in some human strains, which indicates a horizontal transfer between strains and the zoonotic risk of APEC strains. ColV plasmids could have common virulence genes that could be acquired by transposition, without sharing genes of plasmid function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / genetics
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Genome
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Plasmids / genetics*
  • Plasmids / metabolism
  • Virulence / genetics


  • DNA Primers