Virulence Factors of Enteric Pathogenic Escherichia coli: A Review

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Sep 14;22(18):9922. doi: 10.3390/ijms22189922.


Escherichia coli are remarkably versatile microorganisms and important members of the normal intestinal microbiota of humans and animals. This harmless commensal organism can acquire a mixture of comprehensive mobile genetic elements that contain genes encoding virulence factors, becoming an emerging human pathogen capable of causing a broad spectrum of intestinal and extraintestinal diseases. Nine definite enteric E. coli pathotypes have been well characterized, causing diseases ranging from various gastrointestinal disorders to urinary tract infections. These pathotypes employ many virulence factors and effectors subverting the functions of host cells to mediate their virulence and pathogenesis. This review summarizes new developments in our understanding of diverse virulence factors associated with encoding genes used by different pathotypes of enteric pathogenic E. coli to cause intestinal and extraintestinal diseases in humans.

Keywords: E. coli pathotypes; enteric pathogenic Escherichia coli; virulence factor genes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Virulence Factors / genetics
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism*


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Virulence Factors