A degenerate type III secretion system from septicemic Escherichia coli contributes to pathogenesis

Diana Ideses, Uri Gophna, Yossi Paitan, Roy R. Chaudhuri, Mark J. Pallen, Eliora Z. Ron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The type III secretion system (T3SS) is an important virulence factor used by several gram-negative bacteria to deliver effector proteins which subvert host cellular processes. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157 has a well-defined T3SS involved in attachment and effacement (ETT1) and critical for virulence. A gene cluster potentially encoding an additional T3SS (ETT2), which resembles the SPI-1 system in Salmonella enterica, was found in its genome sequence. The ETT2 gene cluster has since been found in many E. coli strains, but its in vivo role is not known. Many of the ETT2 gene clusters carry mutations and deletions, raising the possibility that they are not functional. Here we show the existence in septicemic E. coli strains of an ETT2 gene cluster, ETT2sepsis, which, although degenerate, contributes to pathogenesis. ETT2sepsis has several premature stop codons and a large (5 kb) deletion, which is conserved in 11 E. coli strains from cases of septicemia and newborn meningitis. A null mutant constructed to remove genes coding for the putative inner membrane ring of the secretion complex exhibited significantly reduced virulence. These results are the first demonstration of the importance of ETT2 for pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8164-8171
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


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