Multiple antibiotic resistance gene recruitment onto the enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli virulence plasmid

FASEB J. 2010 Apr;24(4):1160-6. doi: 10.1096/fj.09-144972. Epub 2009 Nov 16.


Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) strains are zoonotic pathogens responsible for a range of severe human disease. The repertoire of virulence determinants promoting EHEC disease is encoded on both the main chromosome and virulence plasmid. We examined a multiply antibiotic-resistant O26 EHEC strain for carriage of resistance genes on the virulence plasmid. The EHEC virulence plasmid containing a complex antibiotic-resistance gene locus, designated as pO26-CRL, was purified from EHEC O26:H(-) (patient with hemorrhagic colitis) and subjected to shotgun-sequencing and bioinformatic analysis. Determination of the 111,481-bp sequence of pO26-CRL revealed genes encoding a functional enterohemolysin operon (ehxCABD), STEC-specific extracellular serine protease (espP), putative EHEC adhesin (toxB), catalase/peroxidase (katP), and myristoyl transferase (msbB) involved in lipid A synthesis. A 22,609-bp Tn21 derivative is inserted within the conjugal transfer gene traC and encodes resistance to trimethoprim, streptomycin, sulfathiozole, kanamycin, neomycin, beta-lactams, and mercuric chloride. Plasmid pO26-CRL is nonconjugative but is mobilizable. This is the first report of an EHEC virulence plasmid containing a complex antibiotic resistance locus, and raises the concern that antibiotic use will coselect for virulence determinants, leading to increased disease potential in both commensal and pathogenic E. coli populations.-Venturini, C., Beatson, S. A., Djordjevic, S. P., Walker, M. J. Multiple antibiotic resistance gene recruitment onto the enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli virulence plasmid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyltransferases / genetics
  • Acyltransferases / metabolism
  • Catalase / genetics
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Genetic Loci*
  • Hemolysin Proteins / genetics*
  • Hemolysin Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Operon / genetics
  • Plasmids / genetics*
  • Plasmids / metabolism


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • enterohemolysin
  • toxB protein, E coli
  • Catalase
  • Acyltransferases
  • MsbB protein, E coli