Bacterial self-defence: how Escherichia coli evades serum killing

Authors

  • Helen Miajlovic,

    1. Department of Clinical Microbiology, Sir Patrick Dun Research Laboratory, School of Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Stephen G. Smith

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Clinical Microbiology, Sir Patrick Dun Research Laboratory, School of Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
    • Correspondence: Stephen Smith, Department of Clinical Microbiology, Sir Patrick Dun Research Laboratory, School of Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin 8, Ireland. Tel.: 353 1 896 85 90; fax: 353 1 896 85 66; e-mail: steve.smith@tcd.ie

    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

The ability to survive the bactericidal action of serum is advantageous to extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli that gain access to the bloodstream. Evasion of the innate defences present in serum, including complement and antimicrobial peptides, involves multiple factors. Serum resistance mechanisms utilized by E. coli include the production of protective extracellular polysaccharide capsules and expression of factors that inhibit or interfere with the complement cascade. Recent studies have also highlighted the importance of structural integrity of the cell envelope in serum survival. These survival strategies are outlined in this review with particular attention to novel findings and recent insights into well-established resistance mechanisms.

Ancillary