Use of fimH single-nucleotide polymorphisms for strain typing of clinical isolates of Escherichia coli for epidemiologic investigation

Rubens C S Dias, Beatriz M Moreira, Lee W Riley
Journal of Clinical Microbiology 2010, 48 (2): 483-8
Strain typing methods that compare electrophoresis banding patterns are commonly used but are difficult to standardize and poorly portable. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) is a sequence-based alternative, but it is not practical for large-scale epidemiological studies. In the present study, the usefulness of fimH single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for Escherichia coli typing was explored. fimH SNPs were determined for 345 E. coli clinical isolates (including 3 reference strains) and compared to PCR-based ECOR (E. coli reference collection) phylogrouping. The fimH gene could be amplified for 316 (92%) of the 345 isolates. fimH SNP analysis found 46 distinct terminal groups in the nucleotide sequence-based phylogenetic tree (fimH types). A subset of the E. coli isolates (162 clinical isolates and the 3 reference strains) were compared by fimH type, PCR phylogroup, and MLST. These isolates fell into 27 fimH types and 18 MLST clonal complexes (CCs) that contained 2 to 28 isolates per complex. The combination of PCR phylogroup and fimH type corresponded to a single CC for 113 (68%) isolates and 2 or 3 CCs for the other 52 (32%) isolates. We propose that the combination of PCR phylogrouping and fimH SNP analysis may be a useful method to type a large collection of clinical E. coli isolates for epidemiologic studies.

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