Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 140–148 | Cite as

The Evolutionary History of Shigella and Enteroinvasive Escherichia coli Revised

  • Patricia Escobar-Páramo
  • Catherine Giudicelli
  • Claude Parsot
  • Erick Denamur


In Shigella and enteroinvasive Escherichia coli (EIEC), the etiologic agents of shigellosis in humans, the determinants responsible for entry of bacteria into and dissemination within epithelial cells are encoded by a virulence plasmid. To understand the evolution of the association between the virulence plasmid and the chromosome, we performed a phylogenetic analysis using the sequences of four chromosomal genes (trpA, trpB, pabB, and putP) and three virulence plasmid genes (ipaB, ipaD, and icsA) of a collection of 51 Shigella and EIEC strains. The phylogenetic tree derived from chromosomal genes showed a typical “star” phylogeny, indicating a fast diversification of Shigella and EIEC groups. Phylogenetic groups obtained from the chromosomal and plasmidic genes were similar, suggesting that the virulence plasmid and the chromosome share similar evolutionary histories. The few incongruences between the trees could be attributed to exchanges of fragments of different plasmids and not to the transfer of an entire plasmid. This indicates that the virulence plasmid was not transferred between the different Shigella and EIEC groups. These data support a model of evolution in which the acquisition of the virulence plasmid in an ancestral E. coli strain preceded the diversification by radiation of all Shigella and EIEC groups, which led to highly diversified but highly specialized pathogenic groups.


Shigella Escherichia coli Virulence plasmid Phylogeny Radiation 



The authors thank Bertrand Picard and Philippe Bouvet for provision of the strains used in this study, Hélène d’Hauteville for access to precious RFLP data, Guillaume Lecointre, Pierre Darlu, Guillermo Orti, Ehab Abouheif, Dan Dykhuizen, and Olivier Tenaillon for helpful discussions, and Jacques Elion for constant encouragement. This work was supported in part by the Programme de Recherche Fondamentale en Microbiologie et Maladies Infectieuses et Parasitaires and grants from the INSERM and the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INSERM U458Hôpital Robert, Debré, 48 Boulevard Sérurier, 75019, ParisFrance
  2. 2.Centre d’Etude du Polymorphisme HumainHôpital Saint Louis, ParisFrance
  3. 3.Unité de Pathogénie Microbienne MoléculaireInstitut Pasteur, ParisFrance

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