The role of fimbriae and flagella in the colonization, invasion and persistence of Escherichia coli O78[ratio]K80 in the day-old-chick model
To understand the role of flagella and fimbriae of Escherichia coli O78[ratio]K80 in avian colibacillosis, day-old chicks were dosed orally with defined afimbriate and or aflagellate mutants and colonization, invasion and persistence compared with that of the wild-type. In an invasion model, chicks were dosed with 1 × 105 c.f.u. of a single strain and mutants defective for type 1 fimbriae, curli fimbriae or flagella colonized livers by 24 h although the numbers of bacteria present were significantly less than the wild-type. Mutants colonized between 50 and 75% of spleens whereas the wild-type colonized 100% of spleens. Additionally, the numbers of mutant bacteria in colonized spleens were significantly less than the wild-type. Surprisingly, mutants defective for the elaboration of more than one appendage were no more attenuated than single mutants. In a persistence model, chicks were dosed with 1 × 102 c.f.u. of a single strain and mutants defective for type 1 or curli or flagella or any combination thereof persisted as assessed by cloacal swabbing for 5 weeks of the experiment less well than the wild-type. In an additional persistence model, chicks were dosed with 5 × 102 c.f.u. of each of wild-type and one mutant together. All mutants were significantly less persistent than the wild-type (P < 0·001) and one mutant which lacked type 1, curli and flagella, was eliminated within 2 weeks. Analysis of the trends of elimination indicated that flagella contributed to persistence more than curli, which contributed more than type 1 fimbriae. Here was evidence for a major role in colonization, invasion and persistence played by type 1, curli and flagella.(Accepted December 13 1999)
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