Image_2_Characterization of a Novel Diarrheagenic Strain of Proteus mirabilis Associated With Food Poisoning in China.jpg

Proteus mirabilis is commonly considered to be an opportunistic pathogen causing urinary tract infections (UTIs) in humans. However, some strains of P. mirabilis were found to be associated with food poisoning outbreaks, with the pathogenic mechanism still unclear. In our study, we described a novel strain of P. mirabilis C02011 isolated from patients’ specimens in a food poisoning in China. In order to determine its gastrointestinal pathogenicity, experiments were performed to compare P. mirabilis B02005 strain (isolated from healthy people) and P. mirabilis American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) 29906 strain both in vitro [Caco-2 cells: bacterial adhesion and invasion assays, Giemsa staining, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM)] and in vivo [BALB/c mouse model: fecal character, colon injury, histological examination, immunochemistry, and western blotting (WB)]. According to the results, C02011 strain exhibited almost identical characteristics with B02005 strain in bacterial appearance and proliferation. In vitro, Caco-2 cells were infected with P. mirabilis C02011, B02005, and P. mirabilis ATCC 29906 strains. After that, Giemsa staining and TEM were used for observing the infection process of C02011 strain. Meanwhile, the adhesive abilities of different strains were rated as follows: P. mirabilis B02005 > P. mirabilis C02011 > P. mirabilis ATCC 29906 (P < 0.01). Invasive abilities of different strains were rated as follows: P. mirabilis C02011 > P. mirabilis B02005 > P. mirabilis ATCC 29906 (P < 0.01). In vivo, BALB/c mice were infected with P. mirabilis C02011 and B02005 strains. C02011 strain shows more virulence than B02005 strain in terms of the following indicators: (1) feces water content and fecal character; (2) colon length of mice; (3) histological examination on mouse intestine tissues; (4) ELISA for detecting TNF-α level in the colon; and (5) WB and immunohistochemistry (IHC) for detecting occludin protein expression in the colon. On the basis of these results, we firstly validated that the novel strain of P. mirabilis C02011 shows more gastrointestinal pathogenicity than the other strains isolated from a healthy individual. In addition, type IV secretion system (T4SS) was preliminarily confirmed to play an important role in the pathogenesis of diarrheal P. mirabilis isolated from the food poisoning incident.