Background. Plasmids containing hylEfm (pHylEfm) were previously shown to increase gastrointestinal colonization and lethality of Enterococcus faecium in experimental peritonitis. The hylEfm gene, predicting a glycosyl hydrolase, has been considered as a virulence determinant of hospital-associated E. faecium, although its direct contribution to virulence has not been investigated. Here, we constructed mutants of the hyl Efm-region and we evaluated their effect on virulence using a murine peritonitis model. Results. Five mutants of the hylEfm-region of pHylEfmTX16 from the sequenced endocarditis strain (TX16 [DO]) were obtained using an adaptation of the PheS* system and were evaluated in a commensal strain TX1330RF to which pHylEfmTX16 was transferred by mating; these include i) deletion of hylEfm only; ii) deletion of the gene downstream of hylEfm (down) of unknown function; iii) deletion of hylEfm plus down; iv) deletion of hylEfm-down and two adjacent genes; and v) a 7,534 bp deletion including these four genes plus partial deletion of two others, with replacement by cat. The 7,534 bp deletion did not affect virulence of TX16 in peritonitis but, when pHyl EfmTX16Δ7,534 was transferred to the TX1330RF background, the transconjugant was affected in in vitro growth versus TX1330RF(pHyl EfmTX16) and was attenuated in virulence; however, neither hyl Efm nor hylEfm-down restored wild type function. We did not observe any in vivo effect on virulence of the other deletions of the hylEfm-region. Conclusions. The four genes of the hylEfm region (including hylEfm) do not mediate the increased virulence conferred by pHylEfmTX16 in murine peritonitis. The use of the markerless counterselection system PheS* should facilitate the genetic manipulation of E. faecium in the future.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)