A collection of 44 enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAggEC) strains isolated from infants with diarrhea in India and the United Kingdom were examined for their ability to adhere in vitro to human intestinal mucosa and by electron microscopy for production of putative adherence factors. None of the strains adhered to human duodenal mucosa, and six strains tested did not adhere to ileal mucosa; all 44 strains, however, adhered to human colonic mucosa in localized aggregates. Electron microscopy of infected colonic mucosa indicated fimbrially mediated adhesion of the EAggEC strains. Four morphologically distinct kinds of fimbriae, including a new morphological type of E. coli fimbriae consisting of bundles of fine filaments, were identified among the EAggEC strains; this new type of fimbria was observed in 43 of the 44 EAggEC strains. Forty-three of the 44 EAggEC strains were positive with a DNA probe developed to identify EAggEC, and most of the strains belonged to serotypes unrelated to the other major classes of diarrheic E. coli. These results suggest that EAggEC may be a large-bowel pathogen and colonize the colon by a fimbrially mediated adhesion mechanism
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