Vero Cell Toxins in Escherichia Coli and Related Bacteria: Transfer by Phage and Conjugation and Toxic Action in Laboratory Animals, Chickens and Pigs

J Gen Microbiol. 1983 Oct;129(10):3121-37. doi: 10.1099/00221287-129-10-3121.


Sixty-eight of 519 strains of Escherichia coli and six of 10 strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa produced toxins acting on Vero cells (VT+); all of 63 Salmonella, Shigella, Klebsiella, Enterobacter and Proteus strains were VT-. Most of the VT+ E. coli strains were from weaned pigs suffering from oedema disease and/or diarrhoea and belonged to serogroups O141:K85,88, O141:K85, O138:K81, and O139:K82; six VT+ E. coli strains were from diarrhoeic human babies, four of serogroup O26 and two of serogroup O128. The VT genes in two of the O26 strains and in the O128 strains were located in the genome of the phages with which they were lysogenized. One O141:K85,88 pig E. coli strain transferred its VT genes, probably by conjugation, to E. coli K12. The VTs of the human E. coli strains, the pig E. coli strains and the P. aeruginosa strains were antigenically different from each other; unlike the others, the P. aeruginosa VT was heat-resistant. Cell-free preparations of cultures of E. coli K12 to which the VT genes of the four human E. coli strains had been transferred caused fluid accumulation in ligated segments of rabbit intestine. Inoculated intravenously, they were lethal for mice and rabbits; similar preparations of E. coli K12 to which the VT genes of the pig E. coli strain had been transferred produced a disease in pigs that clinically and pathologically resembled oedema disease.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteriophages / genetics
  • Cattle
  • Chickens
  • Conjugation, Genetic*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / genetics
  • Enterobacteriaceae / metabolism
  • Enterotoxins / genetics
  • Enterotoxins / toxicity
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism
  • Rabbits
  • Serotyping
  • Sheep
  • Species Specificity
  • Swine
  • Transduction, Genetic*


  • Enterotoxins