Escherichia coli is the primary cause of urinary tract infection (UTI), which is one of the most frequent human infections. While much is understood about the virulence factors utilized by uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC), less is known about the bacterial growth dynamics taking place during infection. Bacterial growth is considered essential for successful host colonization and infection, and most antibiotics in clinical use depend on active bacterial growth to exert their effect. However, a means to measure the in situ bacterial growth rate during infection has been lacking. Due to faithful coordination between chromosome replication and cell growth and division in E. coli, chromosome replication provides a quantitative measure of the bacterial growth rate. In this study, we explored the potential for inferring in situ bacterial growth rate from a single urine sample in patients with E. coli bacteriuria by differential genome quantification (ori:ter) performed by quantitative PCR. We found active bacterial growth in almost all samples. However, this occurs with day-to-day and inter-patient variability. Our observations indicate that chromosome replication provides not only a robust measure of bacterial growth rate, but it can also be used as a means to evaluate antibiotic effect.
Keywords: antibiotic effect; bacterial growth rate; chromosome replication; urinary tract infection.