The occurrence of subtilase-cytotoxin-encoding genes in environmental Escherichia coli isolated from a Northern California estuary

Maria das Graças C Pereira, Barbara A Byrne, Trân B H Nguyen, David J. Lewis, Edward R Atwill

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2 Scopus citations


The presence of subtilase-cytotoxin-encoding genes was determined in 397 environmental Escherichia coli strains isolated from water, suspended solids, and sediments sampled from different hydrological and environmental conditions in a California estuary. A total of 7 strains (1.76%) were found to harbor subtilase-cytotoxin-encoding genes. Using primers targeting subA only, we generated PCR amplicons from 2 strains; while using primers targeting the 3′ end of SubA downstream to the 5′ end of SubB, amplicons of 232 bp were generated from 5 additional strains. The 556 bp subA sequences were almost identical to that in the subtilase-cytotoxin-positive strain ED 591 (98%), while subAB sequences of 2 non-Shiga-toxigenic strains revealed 100% similarity with the Shiga-toxigenic E. coli O113:H21 strain 98NK2 that was isolated from an outbreak of hemolytic uremic syndrome. Additionally, the serogroup O113:H21 was present in this collection of environmental E. coli, and it was found to harbor stx2d, hra1 that encodes the heat resistant agglutinin 1, and a subAB sequence similar to that in the non-Shiga-toxigenic E. coli subtilase cytotoxin strain ED 591. To further understand potential health risks posed by strains encoding SubAB, future epidemiological studies should consider screening isolates for subAB regardless of the presence of Shiga-toxin-encoding genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-441
Number of pages5
JournalCanadian Journal of Microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013



  • Environmental E. coli
  • Non-O157 E. coli
  • Shiga toxin
  • Subtilase cytotoxin
  • Surface water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology

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