Isolation and characterization of a gene involved in hemagglutination by an avian pathogenic Escherichia coli strain

D. L. Provence, R. Curtiss

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178 Scopus citations


In this article, we report the isolation and characterization of a gene that may be important in the adherence of avian pathogenic Escherichia coli to the avian respiratory tract. The E. coli strain HB101, which is unable to agglutinate chicken erythrocytes, was transduced with cosmid libraries from the avian pathogenic E. coli strain χ7122. Enrichment of transductants that could agglutinate chicken erythrocytes yielded 19 colonies. These isolates contained cosmids that encompassed four nonoverlapping regions of the E. coli chromosome. Only one group of cosmids, represented by pYA3104, would cause E. coli CC118 to agglutinate chicken erythrocytes. A 10-kb fragment of this cosmid was subcloned in pACYC184. Transposon mutagenesis of this fragment with Tn5seq1 indicated that a contiguous 4.4-kb region of cloned DNA was required for hemagglutination. In vitro transcription/translation assays indicated that this 4.4-kb region of DNA encoded one protein of approximately 140 kDa. The nucleotide sequence of this region was determined and found to encode one open reading frame of 4,134 nucleotides that would encode a protein of 1,377 amino acids with a deduced molecular weight of 148,226. This gene confers on E. coli K-12 a temperature-sensitive hemagglutination phenotype that is best expressed when cells are grown at 26°C, and we have designated this gene tsh and the deduced gene product Tsh. Insertional mutagenesis of the chromosomal tsh gene in χ7122 had no effect on hemagglutination titers. The deduced protein was found to contain significant homology to the Haemophilus influenzae and Neisseria gonorrhoeae immunoglobulin A1 proteases. These data indicate that (i) a single gene isolated from the avian pathogenic E. coli strain χ7122 will confer on E. coli K-12 a hemagglutination-positive phenotype, (ii) χ7122 contains at least two distinct mechanisms to allow hemagglutination to occur, and (iii) the hemagglutinin Tsh has homology with a class of proteins previously not known to exist in E. coli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1369-1380
Number of pages12
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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