Expression of receptors for verotoxin 1 from Escherichia coli O157 on bovine intestinal epithelium

D. E. Elaine Hoey, Carol G. Currie, Roderick W. Else, Anita Nutikka, Clifford A. Lingwood, David L. Gally, David George Emslie Smith

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64 Citations (Scopus)


Human enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) infection most commonly arises, either directly or indirectly, from cattle, which act as a reservoir host for these bacteria. In man, EHEC disease can be severe, whereas EHEC do not normally cause disease in cattle. Verotoxins (VTs) are the main virulence factors in human disease but no role for VT has been ascribed in cattle; however, this study shows for the first time that VT receptor is expressed by the bovine intestinal tract. VT bound to crypt epithelial cells of the small (ileum and jejunum) and large (caecum and colon) intestine independently of the animals' age. VT also bound to discrete cell subsets in the bovine kidney and to submucosal lymphoid cells but not to vasculature. Analysis of tissues for isoforms of the VT receptor, Gb3, confirmed the presence of the receptor in the bovine intestinal epithelium and kidney. A distinct pattern of Gb3 receptor isoform mixtures was observed in the bovine kidney. This, together with the general absence of receptors on vasculature, could contribute to the apparent resistance of cattle to systemic effects of VT. Expression of Gb3 on the bovine intestinal epithelium, together with previously described effects, may affect EHEC colonisation in its reservoir hosts and hence the potential for distribution to man.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2002


  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Escherichia coli O157
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Kidney
  • Shiga Toxin 1
  • Trihexosylceramides


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