Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


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Published in INFECTION AND IMMUNITY, Sept. 1995, p. 3739–3744. Copyright 1995, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


In a previous study, enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 with a deletion and insertion in the eaeA gene encoding intimin was used to establish that intimin is required for the organism to attach to and efface microvilli in the piglet intestine (M. S. Donnenberg, S. Tzipori, M. L. McKee, A. D. O’Brien, J. Alroy, and J. B. Kaper, J. Clin. Invest. 92:1418–1424, 1993). However, in the same investigation, a role for intimin in EHEC adherence to HEp-2 cells could not be definitively demonstrated. To analyze the basis for this discrepancy, we constructed an in-frame deletion of eaeA and compared the adherence capacity of this mutant with that of the wild-type strain in vitro and in vivo. We observed a direct correlation between the requisite for intimin in EHEC O157:H7 colonization of the gnotobiotic piglet intestine and adherence of the bacterium to HEp-2 cells. The in vitro-in vivo correlation lends credence to the use of the HEp-2 cell adherence model for further study of the intimin protein.