The SfaXII protein from newborn meningitis E. coli is involved in regulation of motility and type 1 fimbriae expression

Annika E. Sjöström, Carlos Balsalobre, Levente Emödy, Benita Westerlund-Wikström, Jörg Hacker, Bernt Eric Uhlin

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The genomes of pathogenic Escherichia coli may contain several different fimbrial operons. How bacteria regulate and coordinate the choice of fimbrial expression under different circumstances remains largely unanswered. In this report we have investigated the role of the sfaXII gene associated to the SfaII fimbrial determinant in the E. coli isolate IHE3034. sfaXII belongs to a subfamily of genes, the 17 kDa genes, located near different fimbrial operons in uropathogenic and newborn meningitis E. coli (NMEC) strains. Using the NMEC isolate IHE3034 and non-pathogenic E. coli strains we found that the sfaXII gene had an inhibitory effect on type 1 fimbriae expression. Down-regulation of type 1 fimbriae was exerted at transcriptional level both by inhibiting expression from the fimA promoter and by reducing the frequency of OFF-to-ON switching. The effect of sfaXII on expression of the recombinase FimB that catalyzes OFF-to-ON switching might explain the described reduction in percentage of ON cells. Moreover, expression of the sfaXII gene strongly influenced motility and flagella production of the NMEC isolate IHE3034. We propose that the sfaXII gene, and presumably other members in the 17 kDa gene family, may play a role in the control of virulence related gene expression in pathogenic E. coli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-252
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobial Pathogenesis
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2009



  • Motility
  • NMEC
  • Regulation
  • S fimbriae
  • Type 1 fimbriae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases

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