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Microbial Pathogenesis 1995; 19:335-349


The ipaH loci comprise a multicopy antigen gene family unique to Shigella species and enteroinvasive Escherichia coli (EIEC). DNA probes derived from the Shigella flexneri stereotype 5 ipaH7.8 gene were used to compare the molecular arrangement of ipaH alleles in a variety of Shigella and EIEC strains. Multiple copies of ipaH-homologous sequences were detected in all invasion plasmids examined. Oligonucleotide probes covering discrete 24 bp segments of the ipaH7.8 gene and sequences flanking the ipaH4.5 (probe H25) and ipaH2.5 (probe H24) loci were used to define the extent of homology among invasion plasmid copies of ipaH in S. flexneri serotypes 1, 2 and 5 and in S. sonnei. IpaH alleles carried by these invasion plasmids were not structurally equivalent and showed sequence divergence at their amino- and carboxy-terminal ends. The H25 probe was shown to correspond to an IS629 sequence genetically linked to the ipaH alleles, while the H24 probe defined a DNA sequence found only in Shigella invasion plasmids. Chromosomal DNA from invasion plasmid-cured S. flexneri and S. sonnei strains hybridized a core ipaH7.8 gene segment, indicating that portions of the ipaH7.8 structural gene were reiterated and contained within the shigellae chromosomes. Based on the specificity of the ipaH7.8 core probe and the detection of ipaH sequences on the invasion plasmids and chromosomes of Shigella strains, three polymorphic groups within a collection of forty S. dysenteriae 1 isolates received by the United States Centers for Disease Control in 1988 were identified using this probe. These results suggest that ipaH restriction fragment length polymorphisms may be useful in genetic lineage and epidemiologic studies of virulent shigellae.

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