Date of this Version
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, May 2009, p. 3271–3280 Vol. 75, No. 10
Populations of the food- and waterborne pathogen Escherichia coli O157:H7 are comprised of two major lineages. Recent studies have shown that specific genotypes within these lineages differ substantially in the frequencies with which they are associated with human clinical disease. While the nucleotide sequences of the genomes of lineage I strains E. coli O157 Sakai and EDL9333 have been determined, much less is known about the genomes of lineage II strains. In this study, suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) was used to identify genomic features that define lineage II populations. Three SSH experiments were performed, yielding 1,085 genomic fragments consisting of 811 contigs. Bacteriophage sequences were identified in 11.3% of the contigs, 9% showed insertions and 2.3% deletions with respect to E. coli O157:H7 Sakai, and 23.2% did not have significant identity to annotated sequences in GenBank. In order to test for the presence of these novel loci in lineage I and II strains, 27 PCR primer sets were designed based on sequences from these contigs. All but two of these PCR targets were found in the majority (51.9% to 100%) of 27 lineage II strains but in no more than one (<6%) of the 17 lineage I strains. Several of these linage II-related fragments contain insertions/deletions that may play an important role in virulence. These lineage II-related loci were also shown to be useful markers for genotyping of E. coli O157:H7 strains isolated from human and animal sources.