Chapter 42 : Evolutionary Biology of Pathogenic Enterococci

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This chapter focuses on the properties and ecological features that might contribute to enterococci behaving as a human pathogen. The study of the molecular bases of the host-pathogen interactions constitutes the cornerstone of the new discipline of ecogenomics that is expected to provide insights for disease suppression. The wide dissemination of cytolysin in enterococci from different origins might reflect the selection of additional antieukaryotic activities for enterococci in water or soil niches. Enterococci are ubiquitous microorganisms associated with most mammals and birds and are recovered from reptiles, insects, and natural environments apparently lacking exposure to heavy fecal contamination. Lateral gene transfer (LGT) seems to play a critical role in the evolution of Enterococcus faecalis and E. faecium and their adaptation to specific environments. In addition, the multiplicity of mobile and foreign elements found in available sequenced genomes might explain the lack of synteny between genomes of enterococci and any sequenced low-GC organisms. The growing knowledge about transfer and sequences of elements and genomes has revealed a multitude of strategies for bacterial adaptation. A section summarizes the available knowledge on mobile genetic elements (MGE) found among enterococci and their distribution among other microorganisms belonging to the same exchange communities. The 154-kb E. faecalis PAI encodes well-known putative enterococcal virulence traits. One-third of the pathogenicity island (PAI) consists of structural genes from the enterococcal pheromone-responsive plasmids pAD1 and pAM373, indicating that the evolutionary building-up of this PAI was based on plasmid-integration events.

Citation: Coque T. 2008. Evolutionary Biology of Pathogenic Enterococci, p 501-521. In Baquero F, Nombela C, Cassell G, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J (ed), Evolutionary Biology of Bacterial and Fungal Pathogens. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815639.ch42
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Generic image for table
Table 1.

Enterococcal transposons a

Citation: Coque T. 2008. Evolutionary Biology of Pathogenic Enterococci, p 501-521. In Baquero F, Nombela C, Cassell G, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J (ed), Evolutionary Biology of Bacterial and Fungal Pathogens. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815639.ch42
Generic image for table
Table 2.

Insertion sequences found among genomes of Enterococcus or among mobile genetic elements associated with enterococcal clinical isolates

Citation: Coque T. 2008. Evolutionary Biology of Pathogenic Enterococci, p 501-521. In Baquero F, Nombela C, Cassell G, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J (ed), Evolutionary Biology of Bacterial and Fungal Pathogens. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815639.ch42
Generic image for table
Table 3.

Enterococcal plasmids a

Citation: Coque T. 2008. Evolutionary Biology of Pathogenic Enterococci, p 501-521. In Baquero F, Nombela C, Cassell G, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J (ed), Evolutionary Biology of Bacterial and Fungal Pathogens. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815639.ch42

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