Emergence of a 'hyperinfectious' bacterial state after passage of Citrobacter rodentium through the host gastrointestinal tract

Siouxsie Wiles, Gordon Dougan, Gad Frankel

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Citrobacter rodentium belongs to a family of human and animal enteric pathogens that includes the clinically significant enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) and enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC). These pathogens exploit attaching and effacing (A/E) lesions to colonize the host gastrointestinal tract. However, both EHEC and EPEC are poorly pathogenic in mice. In contrast, C. rodentium, which is genetically highly related to E. coli, relies on A/E lesion formation as an essential step in both colonization and infection of the murine mucosa, providing an excellent in vivo model. In this study we have used bioluminescence imaging (BLI) to investigate the organ specificity and dynamics of colonization of mice by LB-grown and mouse-passaged C. rodentium in situ and in real time. We have demonstrated the appearance of a 'hyperinfectious' state after passage of C. rodentium through the murine gastrointestinal tract. The 'hyperinfectious' state was found to dramatically reduce the dose required to infect secondary individuals, and also influenced the tissue distribution of colonizing bacteria, removing the requirement for primary colonization of the caecal patch. In addition, the 'hyperinfectious' phenotype was found to be transient with one overnight passage in rich medium sufficient to return C. rodentium to 'culture' infectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1163-1172
Number of pages10
JournalCellular Microbiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

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