Chromosome-encoded IpaH ubiquitin ligases indicate non-human enteroinvasive Escherichia

Sci Rep. 2022 Apr 27;12(1):6868. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-10827-3.


Until recently, Shigella and enteroinvasive Escherichia coli were thought to be primate-restricted pathogens. The base of their pathogenicity is the type 3 secretion system (T3SS) encoded by the pINV virulence plasmid, which facilitates host cell invasion and subsequent proliferation. A large family of T3SS effectors, E3 ubiquitin-ligases encoded by the ipaH genes, have a key role in the Shigella pathogenicity through the modulation of cellular ubiquitination that degrades host proteins. However, recent genomic studies identified ipaH genes in the genomes of Escherichia marmotae, a potential marmot pathogen, and an E. coli extracted from fecal samples of bovine calves, suggesting that non-human hosts may also be infected by these strains, potentially pathogenic to humans. We performed a comparative genomic study of the functional repertoires in the ipaH gene family in Shigella and enteroinvasive Escherichia from human and predicted non-human hosts. We found that fewer than half of Shigella genomes had a complete set of ipaH genes, with frequent gene losses and duplications that were not consistent with the species tree and nomenclature. Non-human host IpaH proteins had a diverse set of substrate-binding domains and, in contrast to the Shigella proteins, two variants of the NEL C-terminal domain. Inconsistencies between strains phylogeny and composition of effectors indicate horizontal gene transfer between E. coli adapted to different hosts. These results provide a framework for understanding of ipaH-mediated host-pathogens interactions and suggest a need for a genomic study of fecal samples from diseased animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Chromosomes / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Shigella*
  • Ubiquitin* / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism


  • Ubiquitin
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases