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Pathogenicity Factors of Genomic Islands in Intestinal and Extraintestinal Escherichia coli

Abstract : Escherichia coli is a versatile bacterial species that includes both harmless commensal strains and pathogenic strains found in the gastrointestinal tract in humans and warm-blooded animals. The growing amount of DNA sequence information generated in the era of "genomics" has helped to increase our understanding of the factors and mechanisms involved in the diversification of this bacterial species. The pathogenic side of E. coli that is afforded through horizontal transfers of genes encoding virulence factors enables this bacterium to become a highly diverse and adapted pathogen that is responsible for intestinal or extraintestinal diseases in humans and animals. Many of the accessory genes acquired by horizontal transfers form syntenic blocks and are recognized as genomic islands (GIs). These genomic regions contribute to the rapid evolution, diversification and adaptation of E. coli variants because they are frequently subject to rearrangements, excision and transfer, as well as to further acquisition of additional DNA. Here, we review a subgroup of GIs from E. coli termed pathogenicity islands (PAIs), a concept defined in the late 1980s by Jörg Hacker and colleagues in Werner Goebel's group at the University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany. As with other GIs, the PAIs comprise large genomic regions that differ from the rest of the genome by their G + C content, by their typical insertion within transfer RNA genes, and by their harboring of direct repeats (at their ends), integrase determinants, or other mobility loci. The hallmark of PAIs is their contribution to the emergence of virulent bacteria and to the development of intestinal and extraintestinal diseases. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the structure and functional features of PAIs, on PAI-encoded E. coli pathogenicity factors and on the role of PAIs in host-pathogen interactions.
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Mickael Desvaux, Guillaume Dalmasso, Racha Beyrouthy, Nicolas Barnich, Julien Delmas, et al.. Pathogenicity Factors of Genomic Islands in Intestinal and Extraintestinal Escherichia coli. Frontiers in Microbiology, Frontiers Media, 2020, 11, ⟨10.3389/fmicb.2020.02065⟩. ⟨hal-02948743⟩

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