Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are characterized by the release of potent Shiga toxins (Stx), which are associated with severe intestinal and renal disease. Although all STEC strains produce Stx, only a few serotypes cause infection in humans. To determine which virulence traits in vitro are linked to human disease in vivo, 13 Stx2a-producing STEC strains of seropathotype (SPT) A or B (associated with severe human intestinal disease and outbreaks) and 6 strains of SPT D or E (rarely or not linked to human disease) were evaluated in a microaerobic human colonic epithelial infection model. All SPT strains demonstrated similar growth, colonization of polarized T84 colon carcinoma cells and Stx release into the medium. In contrast, Stx translocation across the T84 cell monolayer was significantly lower in SPT group DE compared to SPT group AB strains. Further experiments showed that Stx penetration occurred via a transcellular pathway and was independent of bacterial type III secretion and attaching and effacing lesion formation. These results suggest that the extent of Stx transcytosis across the gut epithelium may represent an important indicator of STEC pathogenicity for humans.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Medical Research Council (MR/ J002062/1; S. S.). All experimental data of this study are included in the results section and supplement. Additional information about the experimental models used can be obtained from the corresponding author. Reagents, bacterial strains and cell lines can be obtained from the resources listed in materials and methods.
© 2018 The Authors.
- Human intestinal epithelium
- Shiga toxin