EnterotoxigenicEscherichia coliOrchestrated host engagement

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The enterotoxigenicEscherichia coliare a pervasive cause of serious diarrheal illness in developing countries. Presently, there is no vaccine to prevent these infections, and many features of the basic pathogenesis of these organisms remain poorly understood. Until very recently most pathogenesis studies had focused almost exclusively on a small subset of known “classical” virulence genes, namely fimbrial colonization factors and the heat-labile (LT) and heat stable (ST) enterotoxins. However, recent investigations of pathogen-host interactions reveal a surprisingly complex and intricately orchestrated engagement involving the interplay of classical and “novel” virulence genes, as well as participation of genes highly conserved in theE. colispecies. These studies may inform further rational approaches to vaccine development for these important pathogens.

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