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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 896235, 8 pages
Research Article

Atypical Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli Secretes Plasmid Encoded Toxin

Laboratório de Bacteriologia, Instituto Butantan, Avenida Vital Brazil 1500, 05503-900 São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Received 7 February 2014; Accepted 13 April 2014; Published 11 May 2014

Academic Editor: Angel Cataldi

Copyright © 2014 Rita C. Ruiz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Plasmid encoded toxin (Pet) is a serine protease originally described in enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) prototype strain 042 whose entire characterization was essentially obtained from studies performed with the purified toxin. Here we show that Pet is not exclusive to EAEC. Atypical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (aEPEC) strains, isolated from diarrhea cases, express Pet and its detection in supernatants of infected HEp-2 cells coincides with the appearance of cell damage, which, in turn, were similar to those described with purified Pet. Pet secretion and the cytotoxic effects are time and culture medium dependent. In presence of DMEM supplemented with tryptone cell rounding and detachment were observed after just 5 h of incubation with the bacteria. In the absence of tryptone, the cytotoxic effects were detected only after 24 h of infection. We also show that, in addition to the prototype EAEC, other pet+ EAEC strains, also isolated from diarrhea cases, induce cellular damage in the same degree as the aEPEC. The cytotoxic effects of EAEC and aEPEC strains were significantly reduced in the presence of a serine protease inhibitor or anti-Pet IgG serum. Our results show a common aspect between the aEPEC and EAEC and provide the first evidence pointing to a role of Pet in aEPEC pathogenesis.