Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) fall within a larger group of isolates producing extraintestinal disease. UPEC express type 1 pili as a critical virulence determinant mediating adherence to and invasion into urinary tract tissues. Type 1 pili expression is under regulation by a family of site-specific recombinases, including FimX, which is encoded from a genomic island called PAI-X for pathogenicity island of FimX. Using a new multiplex PCR, fimX and the additional PAI-X genes were found to be highly associated with UPEC (144/173583.2 %), and more prevalent in UPEC of lower urinary tract origin (105/120587.5 %) than upper urinary tract origin (39/53574 %; P,0.05) or commensal isolates (28/78536 %; P¡0.0001). The Fim-like recombinase gene fimX is the only family member that has a significant association with UPEC compared to commensal isolates. Our results indicate PAI-X genes, including the type 1 pili regulator gene fimX, are highly prevalent among UPEC isolates and have a strong positive correlation with genomic virulence factors, suggesting a potential role for PAI-X in the extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli lifestyle.
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