The term enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) was first used in 1955 to describe a number of serogroup-defined E. coli strains associated with infantile diarrhea. EPEC are now defined as those that produce a characteristic intestinal histopathology known as attaching and effacing (A/E) and do not produce Shiga toxins. EPEC carry the locus for enterocyte effacement (LEE) pathogenicity island, which contains the eae gene that encodes an outer membrane protein called intimin. Typical EPEC (tEPEC) carry a virulence plasmid known as the pEAF (EPEC adhesion factor plasmid) which encodes the bundle-forming pilus (BFP) that mediate localized adherence to epithelial cells, whereas atypical EPEC (aEPEC) do not possess this plasmid. Typical EPEC strains have been associated with severe outbreaks of infant diarrhea in developing countries. Atypical EPEC strains have been linked to diarrhea outbreaks at all ages worldwide. Diarrhea due to aEPEC in children is not as severe as that caused by tEPEC.
Part of the book: The Universe of Escherichia coli