Fimbrial phase variation and DNA rearrangements in uropathogenic isolates of Escherichia coli.

J. M. Abraham, C. S. Freitag, R. M. Gander, J. R. Clements, V. L. Thomas, B. I. Eisenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Having previously shown that the oscillating on-off expression (phase variation) of type 1 fimbriae in Escherichia coli is regulated genetically by an invertible element of DNA, we wished to determine whether E. coli isolates recovered from infected humans behaved in similar fashion. We examined four different clinical isolates that expressed type 1 fimbriae, P fimbriae, or both. Using, in Southern blot analysis, a DNA probe from the type 1 fimbrial switch, that hybridized to one DNA band from phase-on bacteria and to two DNA bands from phase-off bacteria, we found that the three clinical isolates expressing type 1 fimbriae contained the same invertible switch previously seen in the K-12 isolate. Employing a similar approach to characterize the on-off expression of P fimbriae, we used a DNA probe containing the known transcriptional signals for P fimbriae. Although we detected DNA rearrangement in the two strains expressing P fimbriae, unlike the case for type 1 fimbriae, the rearrangement did not correlate with the on-off state of the P fimbriae. Rather, the DNA rearrangement correlated with the environmental conditions of growth of the bacteria from which the DNA was isolated. These results confirm the notion that P fimbriae expression and type 1 fimbriae expression are controlled differently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-508
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular biology & medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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