Role of virulence factors in resistance of avian pathogenic Escherichia coli to serum and in pathogenicity

Melha Mellata, Maryvonne Dho-Moulin, Charles M. Dozois, Roy Curtiss, Peter K. Brown, Pascal Arné, Annie Brée, Clarisse Desautels, John M. Fairbrother

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


In chickens, colibacillosis is caused by avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) via respiratory tract infection. Many virulence factors, including type 1 (F1A) and P (F11) fimbriae, curli, aerobactin, K1 capsule, and temperature-sensitive hemagglutinin (Tsh) and plasmid DNA regions have been associated with APEC. A strong correlation between serum resistance and virulence has been demonstrated, but roles of virulence factors in serum resistance have not been well elucidated. By using mutants of APEC strains TK3, MT78, and χ7122, which belong to serogroups O1, O2, and O78, respectively, we investigated the role of virulence factors in resistance to serum and pathogenicity in chickens. Our results showed that serum resistance is one of the pathogenicity mechanisms of APEC strains. Virulence factors that increased bacterial resistance to serum and colonization of internal organs of infected chickens were O78 lipopolysaccharide of E. coli χ7122 and the K1 capsule of E. coli MT78. In contrast, curli, type 1, and P fimbriae did not appear to contribute to serum resistance. We also showed that the iss gene, which was previously demonstrated to increase resistance to serum in certain E. coli strains, is located on plasmid pAPEC-1 of E. coli χ7122 but does not play a major role in resistance to serum for strain χ7122.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-540
Number of pages5
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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