Metabolic Adaptations of Uropathogenic E. coli in the Urinary Tract

Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2017 Jun 8:7:241. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2017.00241. eCollection 2017.


Escherichia coli ordinarily resides in the lower gastrointestinal tract in humans, but some strains, known as Uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC), are also adapted to the relatively harsh environment of the urinary tract. Infections of the urine, bladder and kidneys by UPEC may lead to potentially fatal bloodstream infections. To survive this range of conditions, UPEC strains must have broad and flexible metabolic capabilities and efficiently utilize scarce essential nutrients. Whole-organism (or "omics") methods have recently provided significant advances in our understanding of the importance of metabolic adaptation in the success of UPECs. Here we describe the nutritional and metabolic requirements for UPEC infection in these environments, and focus on particular metabolic responses and adaptations of UPEC that appear to be essential for survival in the urinary tract.

Keywords: UPEC; metabolism; metabolomics; urinary tract infections; uropathogenic E. coli; virulence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Biomarkers
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli Infections / diagnosis
  • Escherichia coli Infections / urine*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Kidney / microbiology
  • Metabolism
  • Metabolomics
  • Purines / metabolism
  • Pyrimidines / metabolism
  • Urinary Bladder / microbiology
  • Urinary Tract / microbiology*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Uropathogenic Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Uropathogenic Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Uropathogenic Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Uropathogenic Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Virulence
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Purines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Virulence Factors
  • Carbon
  • Iron