Host attachment and fluid shear are integrated into a mechanical signal regulating virulence in Escherichia coli O157:H7

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Ghadah Alsharif
  • Sadia Ahmad
  • Md Shahidul Islam

Colleges, School and Institutes


Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) is a foodborne pathogen causing hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic uremic syndrome. EHEC colonizes the intestinal tract through a range of virulence factors encoded by the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE), as well as Shiga toxin. Although the factors involved in colonization and disease are well characterized, how EHEC regulates its expression in response to a host encounter is not well understood. Here, we report that EHEC perceives attachment to host cells as a mechanical cue that leads to expression of LEE-encoded virulence genes. This signal is transduced via the LEE-encoded global regulator of LEE-encoded regulator (Ler) and global regulator of Ler and is further enhanced by levels of shear force similar to peristaltic forces in the intestinal tract. Our data suggest that, in addition to a range of chemical environmental signals, EHEC is capable of sensing and responding to mechanical cues to adapt to its host's physiology.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5503-5508
Number of pages6
JournalNational Academy of Sciences. Proceedings
Issue number17
Early online date13 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2015


  • enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli, locus of enterocyte effacement, attaching/effacing pathogens, gastrointestinal infection, mechanosensing