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Type III Secretion-Dependent Sensitivity of Escherichia coli O157 to Specific Ketolides

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    Rights statement: Copyright © 2015 Fernandez-Brando et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459–470
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number1
Early online date2 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


A subset of Gram negative bacterial pathogens use a type 3 secretion system (T3SS) to open up a conduit into eukaryotic cells in order to inject effector proteins. These modulate pathways to enhance bacterial colonization. In this study we screened established bioactive compounds for any that could repress T3SS expression in enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157. The ketolides, telithromycin and subsequently solithromycin both demonstrated repressive effects on expression of the bacterial T3SS at sub-minimum inhibitory (sub-MIC) concentrations, leading to significant reductions in bacterial binding and actin-rich pedestal formation on epithelial cells. Pre-incubation of epithelial cells with solithromycin resulted in significantly less attachment of E. coli O157. Moreover, bacteria expressing the T3SS were more susceptible to solithromycin and there was significant preferential killing of E. coli O157 when added to epithelial cells pre-exposed to the ketolide. This killing was dependent on expression of the T3SS. Taken together, this research indicates that the ketolide may traffic back into the bacteria via the T3SS from accumulated levels in epithelial cells. Considering that neither ketolide induces the SOS response, non-toxic members of this class of antibiotic, such as solithromycin, should be considered for future testing and trials in relation to EHEC infections. These antibiotics may also have broader significance for treating other pathogenic bacteria, including intracellular bacteria, that express a T3SS.

    Research areas

  • type III secretion, Escherichia coli, solithromycin, telithromycin, ketolide, SOS, response, Shiga toxin

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