Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) is an important subset of Shiga toxin–producing (Stx-producing) E. coli (STEC), pathogens that have been implicated in outbreaks of food-borne illness and can cause intestinal and systemic disease, including severe renal damage. Upon attachment to intestinal epithelium, EHEC generates “attaching and effacing” (AE) lesions characterized by intimate attachment and actin rearrangement upon host cell binding. Stx produced in the gut transverses the intestinal epithelium, causing vascular damage that leads to systemic disease. Models of EHEC infection in conventional mice do not manifest key features of disease, such as AE lesions, intestinal damage, and systemic illness. In order to develop an infection model that better reflects the pathogenesis of this subset of STEC, we constructed an Stx-producing strain of Citrobacter rodentium, a murine AE pathogen that otherwise lacks Stx. Mice infected with Stx-producing C. rodentium developed AE lesions on the intestinal epithelium and Stx-dependent intestinal inflammatory damage. Further, the mice experienced lethal infection characterized by histopathological and functional kidney damage. The development of a murine model that encompasses AE lesion formation and Stx-mediated tissue damage will provide a new platform upon which to identify EHEC alterations of host epithelium that contribute to systemic disease.
Emily M. Mallick, Megan E. McBee, Vijay K. Vanguri, Angela R. Melton-Celsa, Katherine Schlieper, Brad J. Karalius, Alison D. O’Brien, Joan R. Butterton, John M. Leong, David B. Schauer