Genomic analysis of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli from patients and asymptomatic food handlers in Japan

Hiroaki Baba, Hajime Kanamori, Hayami Kudo, Yasutoshi Kuroki, Seiya Higashi, Kentaro Oka, Motomichi Takahashi, Makiko Yoshida, Kengo Oshima, Tetsuji Aoyagi, Koichi Tokuda, Mitsuo Kaku

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) can cause severe gastrointestinal disease and colonization among food handlers. In Japan, STEC infection is a notifiable disease, and food handlers are required to undergo routine stool examination for STEC. However, the molecular epidemiology of STEC is not entirely known. We investigated the genomic characteristics of STEC from patients and asymptomatic food handlers in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) was performed on 65 STEC isolates obtained from 38 patients and 27 food handlers by public health surveillance in Miyagi Prefecture between April 2016 and March 2017. Isolates of O157:H7 ST11 and O26:H11 ST21 were predominant (n = 19, 29%, respectively). Non-O157 isolates accounted for 69% (n = 45) of all isolates. Among 48 isolates with serotypes found in the patients (serotype O157:H7 and 5 non-O157 serotypes, O26:H11, O103:H2, O103:H8, O121:H19 and O145:H28), adhesion genes eae, tir, and espB, and type III secretion system genes espA, espJ, nleA, nleB, and nleC were detected in 41 to 47 isolates (85–98%), whereas isolates with other serotypes found only in food handlers were negative for all of these genes. Non-O157 isolates were especially prevalent among patients younger than 5 years old. Shiga-toxin gene stx1a, adhesion gene efa1, secretion system genes espF and cif, and fimbrial gene lpfA were significantly more frequent among non-O157 isolates from patients than among O157 isolates from patients. The most prevalent resistance genes among our STEC isolates were aminoglycoside resistance genes, followed by sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim resistance genes. WGS revealed that 20 isolates were divided into 9 indistinguishable core genomes (<5 SNPs), demonstrating clonal expansion of these STEC strains in our region, including an O26:H11 strain with stx1a+stx2a. Non-O157 STEC with multiple virulence genes were prevalent among both patients and food handlers in our region of Japan, highlighting the importance of monitoring the genomic characteristics of STEC.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0225340
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 1


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