The Pathogenicity of Chicken Pathogenic Escherichia coli Is Associated with the Numbers and Combination Patterns of Virulence-Associated Genes


Various virulence-associated genes or pathogenicity island are responsible for determining the pathogenicity of Escherichia coli strains. However, the correlation of the number and combination patterns of virulence-associated genes in Escherichia coli strains with their pathogenicity remains largely unknown. In this work, 581 chicken Escherichia coli strains were isolated from 1045 liver samples of dead chickens from 50 chicken farms at four provinces in China during 2007-2012. Based on the pathogenic test of SPF chickens, 320 chickens pathogenic Escherichia coli isolates were identified as highly (n = 193), intermediate (n = 98) and low pathogenic (n = 29) strains, respectively. Furthermore, the number of virulence genes in the 320 chicken pathogenic and 50 non-pathogenic Escherichia coli strains was examined. Our results reveal that thirteen virulence genes in Escherichia coli strains were detected, and all strains carried at least two or more than two virulence-associated genes. This study also suggests that highly pathogenic E. coli strains simultaneously carried at least 8 to13 virulence genes while intermediate pathogenic strains carried at least 5 to 8 virulence genes. The number of virulence-associated genes detected in highly pathogenic strains showed there were more significant differences than that in low pathogenic strains (P < 0.01). The detection rate of genes irp2, fyuA, and colV in high pathogenic strains was significantly higher than that in low and non-pathogenic strains (P < 0.01). Nine virulence-associated genes irp2, fyuA, iucA, iucD, iutA, papC, iss, tsh, and colV were more often detected in highly and intermediate pathogenic E. coli strains. Taken together, our results provide evidences demonstrating that the pathogenicity of Escherichia coli strains is closely associated with the number and combination patterns of virulence-associated genes.

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Wang, J. , Tang, P. , Tan, D. , Wang, L. , Zhang, S. , Qiu, Y. , Dong, R. , Liu, W. , Huang, J. , Chen, T. , Ren, J. , Li, C. and Liu, H. (2015) The Pathogenicity of Chicken Pathogenic Escherichia coli Is Associated with the Numbers and Combination Patterns of Virulence-Associated Genes. Open Journal of Veterinary Medicine, 5, 243-254. doi: 10.4236/ojvm.2015.512033.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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