Indexed on: 15 Oct '13Published on: 15 Oct '13Published in: Infection, Genetics and Evolution
Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) strains frequently cause extra-intestinal infections and significant economic losses. Recent studies revealed that the type VI secretion system (T6SS) is involved in APEC pathogenesis. Here we provide the first evidence of three distinguishable and conserved T6SS loci in APEC genomes. In addition, we present the prevalence and comparative genomic analysis of these three T6SS loci in 472 APEC isolates. The prevalence of T6SS1, T6SS2 and T6SS3 loci were 14.62% (69/472), 2.33% (11/472) and 0.85% (4/472) positive in the APEC collections, respectively, and revealed that >85% of the strains contained T6SS loci which consisted of the virulent phylogenetic groups D and B2. Comprehensive analysis showed prominent characteristics of T6SS1 locus, including wildly prevalence, rich sequence diversity, versatile VgrG islands and excellent expression competence in various E. coli pathotypes. Whereas the T6SS2 locus infatuated with ECOR groups B2 and sequence conservation, of which are only expressed in meningitis E. coli. Regrettably, the T6SS3 locus was encoded in negligible APEC isolates and lacked several key genes. An in-depth analysis about VgrG proteins indicated that their COG4253 and gp27 domain were involved in the transport of putative effector islands and recognition of host cells respectively, which revealed that VgrG proteins played an important role in functions formation of T6SS.