Genome sequencing of strains of the most prevalent clonal group of O1:K1:H7 Escherichia coli that causes neonatal meningitis in France

Abstract : BACKGROUND: To describe the temporal dynamics, molecular characterization, clinical and ex vivo virulence of emerging O1:K1 neonatal meningitis Escherichia coli (NMEC) strains of Sequence Type complex (STc) 95 in France. The national reference center collected NMEC strains and performed whole genome sequencing (WGS) of O1:K1 STc95 NMEC strains for phylogenetic and virulence genes content analysis. Data on the clinical and biological features of patients were also collected. Ex vivo virulence was assessed using the Dictyostelium discoideum amoeba model. RESULTS: Among 250 NMEC strains collected between 1998 and 2015, 38 belonged to O1:K1 STc95. This clonal complex was the most frequently collected after 2004, representing up to 25% of NMEC strains in France. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that most (74%) belonged to a cluster designated D-1, characterized by the adhesin FimH30. There is no clinical data to suggest that this cluster is more pathogenic than its counterparts, although it is highly predominant and harbors a large repertoire of extraintestinal virulence factors, including a pS88-like plasmid. Ex vivo virulence model showed that this cluster was generally less virulent than STc95 reference strains of O45S88:H7 and O18:H7 serotypes. However, the model showed differences between several subclones, although they harbor the same known virulence determinants. CONCLUSIONS: The emerging clonal group O1:K1 STc95 of NMEC strains is mainly composed of a cluster with many virulence factors but of only moderate virulence. Whether its emergence is due to its ability to colonize the gut thanks to FimH30 or pS88-like plasmid remains to be determined.
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Guillaume Geslain, André Birgy, Sandrine Adiba, Mélanie Magnan, Céline Courroux, et al.. Genome sequencing of strains of the most prevalent clonal group of O1:K1:H7 Escherichia coli that causes neonatal meningitis in France. BMC Microbiology, BioMed Central, 2019, 19 (1), pp.17. ⟨10.1186/s12866-018-1376-4⟩. ⟨inserm-02068625⟩

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