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Phenotypic and genomic analyses of bacteriophages targeting environmental and clinical CS3-expressing enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) strains

Journal article
Authors S. Chakraborty
Astrid von Mentzer
Y. A. Begum
M. Manzur
M. Hasan
A. N. Ghosh
M. A. Hossein
A. Camilli
F. Qadri
Published in PLoS ONE
Volume 13
Issue 12
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Language en
Keywords colonization factors, monoclonal-antibodies, classification, acquisition, adaptation, prevalence, resistance, mechanism, selection, dynamics,
Subject categories Infectious Medicine


Diarrhea due to infection of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is of great concern in several low and middle-income countries. ETEC infection is considered to be the most common cause of diarrhea in Bangladesh and is mainly spread through contaminated water and food. ETEC pathogenesis is mediated by the expression of enterotoxins and colonization factors (CFs) that target the intestinal mucosa. ETEC can survive for extended time periods in water, where they are likely to be attacked by bacteriophages. Antibiotic resistance is common amongst enteric pathogens and therefore is the use of bacteriophages (phage) as a therapeutic tool an interesting approach. This study was designed to identify novel phages that specifically target ETEC virulence factors. In total, 48 phages and 195 ETEC isolates were collected from water sources and stool samples. Amongst the identified ETEC specific phages, an enterobacteria phage T7, designated as IMM-002, showed a significant specificity towards colonization factor CS3-expressing ETEC isolates. Antibody-blocking and phage-neutralization assays revealed that CS3 is used as a host receptor for the IMM-002 phage. The bacterial CRISPR-Cas (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats-CRISPR-associated) defence mechanism can invoke immunity against phages. Genomic analyses coupled with plaque assay experiments indicate that the ETEC CRISPR-Cas system is involved in the resistance against the CS3-specific phage (IMM-002) and the previously identified CS7-specific phage (IMM-001). As environmental water serves as a reservoir for ETEC, it is important to search for new antimicrobial agents such as phages in environmental water as well as the human gut. A better understanding of how the interplay between ETEC-specific phages and ETEC isolates affects the ETEC diversity, both in environmental ecosystems and within the host, is important for the development of new treatments for ETEC infections.

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