Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) is a diarrheagenic human pathogen. The hallmark of EPEC infection is the formation of the attaching and effacing (A/E) lesion in the intestinal epithelial cells, characterized by the effacement of brush border microvilli and the intimate bacterial attachment to the enterocyte in actin-rich pedestal-like structures. The locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) in the EPEC genome encodes a type III protein secretion system (T3SS) that translocates multiple effector proteins into the host cell to subvert cellular functions for the benefit of the pathogen. These effectors are encoded both within and outside the LEE. In vitro cell culture infections have shown that LEE effectors are required for intimate bacterial attachment to the epithelial cells, whereas non-LEE effectors mostly play a role in modulating inflammation and cell apoptosis in the gut epithelium. We constructed a set of EPEC mutant strains harboring deletions in the complete repertoire of genes encoding T3SS effectors. Infection of human intestinal in vitro organ cultures (IVOC) with these mutant strains surprisingly revealed that non-LEE effectors are also needed to induce efficient A/E lesion formation in the intestinal mucosal tissue.
Part of the book: E. Coli Infections