Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) causes acute and persistent diarrhea among children, HIV-infected patients, and travelers to developing countries. We have searched for 18 genes-encoding virulence factors associated with aggregative adherence, dispersion, biofilm, toxins, serine protease autotransporters of Enterobacteriaceae (SPATEs) and siderophores, analyzed in 172 well-characterized EAEC strains (aggR+) isolated from stool samples of 97 children with diarrhea and 75 healthy controls from a passive surveillance diarrhea cohort study in Peru. Eighty-one different genetic profiles were identified, 37 were found only associated with diarrhea and 25 with control samples. The most frequent genetic profile was aggC+aatA+aap+shf+fyuA+, present in 19 strains, including diarrhea and controls. The profile set1A+set1B+pic+ was associated with diarrhea (P < 0.05). Of all genes evaluated, the most frequent were aatA (CVD 342) present in 159 strains (92.4%) and fyuA in 157 (91.3%). When EAEC strains were analyzed as a single pathogen (excluding co-infections), only pic was associated with diarrhea (P < 0.05) and with prolonged diarrhea (diarrhea ≥ 7 days) (P < 0.05). In summary, this is the first report on the prevalence of a large set of EAEC virulence genes and its association with diarrhea in Peruvian children. More studies are needed to elucidate the exact role of each virulence factor.
- AggR gene
- Virulence genes