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Comparative genetics of Enterococcus faecalis intestinal tissue isolates before and after surgery in a rat model of colon anastomosis


We have recently demonstrated that collagenolytic Enterococcus faecalis plays a key and causative role in the pathogenesis of anastomotic leak, an uncommon but potentially lethal complication characterized by disruption of the intestinal wound following segmental removal of the colon (resection) and its reconnection (anastomosis). Here we hypothesized that comparative genetic analysis of E. faecalis isolates present at the anastomotic wound site before and after surgery would shed insight into the mechanisms by which collagenolytic strains are selected for and predominate at sites of anastomotic disruption. Whole genome optical mapping of four pairs of isolates from rat colonic tissue obtained following surgical resection (herein named "pre-op" isolates) and then 6 days later from the anastomotic site (herein named "post-op" isolates) demonstrated that the isolates with higher collagenolytic activity formed a distinct cluster. In order to perform analysis at a deeper level, a single pair of E. faecalis isolates (16A pre-op and 16A post-op) was selected for whole genome sequencing and assembled using a hybrid assembly algorithm. Comparative genomics demonstrated absence of multiple gene clusters, notably a pathogenicity island in the post-op isolate. No differences were found in the fsr-gelE-sprE genes (EF1817-1822) responsible for regulation and production of collagenolytic activity. Analysis of unique genes among the 16A pre-op and post-op isolates revealed the predominance of transporter systems-related genes in the pre-op isolate and phage-related and hydrolytic enzyme-encoding genes in the post-op isolate. Despite genetic differences observed between pre-op and post-op isolates, the precise genetic determinants responsible for their differential expression of collagenolytic activity remains unknown.

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