Escherichia coli strains that cause disease outside the intestine are known as extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC) and include human uropathogenic E. coli(UPEC) and avian pathogenic E. coli (APEC). Regardless of host of origin, ExPEC strains share many traits. It has been suggested that these commonalities may enable APEC to cause disease in humans. Here, we begin to test the hypothesis that certain APEC strains possess potential to cause human urinary tract infection through virulence genotyping of 1,000 APEC and UPEC strains, generation of the first complete genomic sequence of an APEC (APEC O1:K1:H7) strain, and comparison of this genome to all available human ExPEC genomic sequences. The genomes of APEC O1 and three human UPEC strains were found to be remarkably similar, with only 4.5% of APEC O1's genome not found in other sequenced ExPEC genomes. Also, use of multilocus sequence typing showed that some of the sequenced human ExPEC strains were more like APEC O1 than other human ExPEC strains. This work provides evidence that at least some human and avian ExPEC strains are highly similar to one another, and it supports the possibility that a food-borne link between some APEC and UPEC strains exists. Future studies are necessary to assess the ability of APEC to overcome the hurdles necessary for such a food-borne transmission, and epidemiological studies are required to confirm that such a phenomenon actually occurs.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/lisa_nolan/29/