Intestinal colonization traits of pandemic multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli ST131

Sohinee Sarkar, Melanie L. Hutton, Dimitrios Vagenas, Rinaldo Ruter, Stephanie Schuller, Dena Lyras, Mark A Schembri, Makrina Totsika

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Epidemiological studies point to the gut as a key reservoir of multidrug resistant Escherichia coli multilocus sequence type 131 (ST131), a globally dominant pathogenic clone causing urinary tract and bloodstream infections. Here we report a detailed investigation of its intestinal lifestyle. Methods. Clinical ST131 isolates and type 1 fmbriae null mutants were assessed for colonization of human intestinal epithelia and in mouse intestinal colonization models. Mouse gut tissue underwent histologic analysis for pathology and ST131 localization. Key fndings were corroborated in mucus-producing human cell lines and intestinal biopsy specimens. Results. ST131 strains adhered to and invaded human intestinal epithelial cells more than probiotic and commensal strains. Te reference ST131 strain EC958 established persistent intestinal colonization in mice, and expression of type 1 fmbriae mediated higher colonization levels. Bacterial loads were highest in the distal parts of the mouse intestine and did not cause any obvious pathology. Further analysis revealed that EC958 could bind to both mucus and underlying human intestinal epithelia. Conclusions. ST131 strains can efciently colonize the mammalian gut and persist long term. Type 1 fmbriae enhance ST131 intestinal colonization, suggesting that mannosides, currently developed as therapeutics for bladder infections and Crohn's disease, could also be used to limit intestinal ST131 reservoirs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-990
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2018


  • E. coli ST131
  • fmH
  • Intestinal colonization
  • Multidrug resistance
  • Type 1 fmbriae

Cite this