Adhesion mediated by fimbriae is thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis of urinary tract infections (UTI) by . The majority of clinical isolates of from UTI are able to express type 1 fimbriae. However, the importance of these fimbriae as a virulence factor has been controversial. To investigate the expression of type 1 fimbriae during UTI, mice were transurethrally infected with uropathogenic C175-94 and type 1 fimbrial expression was determined directly by two independent methods at 2 h, 1 d and 3 d after infection. By use of an assay combining rRNA hybridization and immunofluorescence, all bacterial cells detected in urine, bladders and kidneys from mice sacrificed 1 and 3 d after onset of infection were found to express type 1 fimbriae. In contrast, the majority of cells in the suspension used for infection of mice and specimens from mice sacrificed 2 h after inoculation were found to be non-fimbriated. Similar results were obtained with a PCR assay revealing the orientation of the invertible promoter driving the transcription of type 1 fimbrial genes. Whilst the promoter in both ON and OFF positions could be amplified from the suspension used for infection and specimens from mice sacrificed 2 h after inoculation, at 1 and 3 d after onset of infection only the promoter in the ON orientation could be amplified. These results show that introduction of C175-94 into the mouse urinary tract leads to markedly enhanced expression of type 1 fimbriae.


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