Summary: Enterotoxigenic strains of (ETEC) may produce a heat-labile enterotoxin (LT), a heat-stable enterotoxin (ST) or both enterotoxins. Certain serogroups are represented more frequently than others in ETEC isolated from humans. The transfer of three plasmids encoding enterotoxin production (Ent) to 22 non-toxigenic strains of many different O:H serotypes was studied. The Ent plasmids encoded ST (TP276), or LT (TP277), or ST + LT (TP214), and all carried antibiotic-resistance determinants. Twenty-one recipient strains acquired TP214, 18 acquired TP277 and 14 acquired TP276. Strains of those serotypes to which ETEC in diarrhoeal studies commonly belong neither acquired nor maintained Ent plasmids with a higher frequency than strains of those serotypes to which ETEC rarely belong. The recipient strains, with one exception, all expressed ST, or LT, or ST and LT, when they had acquired the appropriate plasmid; a non-motile strain belonging to O serogroup 88 expressed LT but failed to express ST when it acquired TP214 or TP277.


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