To identify traits that predict avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) virulence, 124 avian E. coli isolates of known pathogenicity and serogroup were subjected to virulence genotyping and phylogenetic typing. The results were analyzed by multiple-correspondence analysis. From this analysis, five genes carried by plasmids were identified as being the most significantly associated with highly pathogenic APEC strains: iutA, hlyF, iss, iroN, and ompT. A multiplex PCR panel targeting these five genes was used to screen a collection of 994 avian E. coliisolates. APEC isolates were clearly distinguished from the avian fecal E. coliisolates by their possession of these genes, suggesting that this pentaplex panel has diagnostic applications and underscoring the close association between avianE. coli virulence and the possession of ColV plasmids. Also, the sharp demarcation between APEC isolates and avian fecal E. coli isolates in their plasmid-associated virulence gene content suggests that APEC isolates are well equipped for a pathogenic lifestyle, which is contrary to the widely held belief that most APEC isolates are opportunistic pathogens. Regardless, APEC isolates remain an important problem for poultry producers and a potential concern for public health professionals, as growing evidence suggests a possible role for APEC in human disease. Thus, the pentaplex panel described here may be useful in detecting APEC-like strains occurring in poultry production, along the food chain, and in human disease. This panel may be helpful toward clarifying potential roles of APEC in human disease, ascertaining the source of APEC in animal outbreaks, and identifying effective targets of avian colibacillosis control.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/lisa_nolan/15/