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      Safety Aspect of Enterococcus faecium FL31 Strain and Antibacterial Mechanism of Its Hydroxylated Bacteriocin BacFL31 against Listeria monocytogenes


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          In previous work we have isolated and identified a new strain called Enterococcus faecium FL31. The active compound secreted by this strain, “BacFL31”, has been purified and characterized. In the present study, safety aspect, assessed by microbiological and molecular tests, demonstrated that Enterococcus faecium FL31 was susceptible to relevant antibiotics, free of hemolytic, gelatinase, DNase, and lipase activities. In addition, it did not harbor virulence and antibiotic resistance genes. Combined SYTOX Green dye and UV-absorbing experiments, along with released extracellular potassium and transmembrane electrical potential measurements, showed that pure BacFL31 at a concentration of 1×MIC (50  μg/mL) could damage cytoplasmic membrane of the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes ATCC19117. The same concentration causes the leakage of its intracellular constituents and leads to the destruction of this pathogenic microorganism. In summary, this work reflected characteristics of Enterococcus faecium FL31 strain and its bacteriocin in terms of functional and safety perspectives.

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          Molecular screening of Enterococcus virulence determinants and potential for genetic exchange between food and medical isolates.

          Enterococci are used as starter and probiotic cultures in foods, and they occur as natural food contaminants. The genus Enterococcus is of increased significance as a cause of nosocomial infections, and this trend is exacerbated by the development of antibiotic resistance. In this study, we investigated the incidence of known virulence determinants in starter, food, and medical strains of Enterococcus faecalis, E. faecium, and E. durans. PCR and gene probe strategies were used to screen enterococcal isolates from both food and medical sources. Different and distinct patterns of incidence of virulence determinants were found for the E. faecalis and E. faecium strains. Medical E. faecalis strains had more virulence determinants than did food strains, which, in turn, had more than did starter strains. All of the E. faecalis strains tested possessed multiple determinants (between 6 and 11). E. faecium strains were generally free of virulence determinants, with notable exceptions. Significantly, esp and gelE determinants were identified in E. faecium medical strains. These virulence determinants have not previously been identified in E. faecium strains and may result from regional differences or the evolution of pathogenic E. faecium. Phenotypic testing revealed the existence of apparently silent gelE and cyl genes. In E. faecalis, the trend in these silent genes mirrors that of the expressed determinants. The potential for starter strains to acquire virulence determinants by natural conjugation mechanisms was investigated. Transconjugation in which starter strains acquired additional virulence determinants from medical strains was demonstrated. In addition, multiple pheromone-encoding genes were identified in both food and starter strains, indicating their potential to acquire other sex pheromone plasmids. These results suggest that the use of Enterococcus spp. in foods requires careful safety evaluation.
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            Enterococci as probiotics and their implications in food safety.

            Enterococci belong to the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and they are of importance in foods due to their involvement in food spoilage and fermentations, as well as their utilisation as probiotics in humans and slaughter animals. However, they are also important nosocomial pathogens that cause bacteraemia, endocarditis and other infections. Some strains are resistant to many antibiotics and possess virulence factors such as adhesins, invasins, pili and haemolysin. The role of enterococci in disease has raised questions on their safety for use in foods or as probiotics. Studies on the incidence of virulence traits among enterococcal strains isolated from food showed that some can harbour virulence traits, but it is also thought that virulence is not the result of the presence of specific virulence determinants alone, but is rather a more intricate process. Specific genetic lineages of hospital-adapted strains have emerged, such as E. faecium clonal complex (CC) 17 and E. faecalis CC2, CC9, CC28 and CC40, which are high risk enterococcal clonal complexes. These are characterised by the presence of antibiotic resistance determinants and/or virulence factors, often located on pathogenicity islands or plasmids. Mobile genetic elements thus are considered to play a major role in the establishment of problematic lineages. Although enterococci occur in high numbers in certain types of fermented cheeses and sausages, they are not deliberately added as starter cultures. Some E. faecium and E. faecalis strains are used as probiotics and are ingested in high numbers, generally in the form of pharmaceutical preparations. Such probiotics are administered to treat diarrhoea, antibiotic-associated diarrhoea or irritable bowel syndrome, to lower cholesterol levels or to improve host immunity. In animals, enterococcal probiotics are mainly used to treat or prevent diarrhoea, for immune stimulation or to improve growth. From a food microbiological point of view, the safety of the bacteria used as probiotics must be assured, and data on the major strains in use so far indicate that they are safe. The advantage of use of probiotics in slaughter animals, from a food microbiological point of view, lies in the reduction of zoonotic pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract of animals which prevents the transmission of these pathogens via food. The use of enterococcal probiotics should, in view of the development of problematic lineages and the potential for gene transfer in the gastrointestinal tract of both humans and animals, be carefully monitored, and the advantages of using these and new strains should be considered in a well contemplated risk/benefit analysis. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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              Development of a multiplex PCR for the detection of asa1, gelE, cylA, esp, and hyl genes in enterococci and survey for virulence determinants among European hospital isolates of Enterococcus faecium.

              A multiplex PCR for the simultaneous detection of five virulence genes (asa1, gelE, cylA, esp, and hyl) in enterococci was developed. The presence of these genes was investigated in 153 clinical and 118 fecal Enterococcus faecium isolates from inpatients at an increased risk of developing infections (such as patients in intensive care units and hematology wards) from 13 hospitals in eight European countries. Of the 271 E. faecium isolates, 135 were vancomycin resistant E. faecium (VREF) isolates and 136 were vancomycin susceptible E. faecium (VSEF) isolates. Susceptibilities to ampicillin, gentamicin, streptomycin, vancomycin, teicoplanin, ramoplanin, quinupristin-dalfopristin, and linezolid were tested by the microdilution method. Overall, the prevalence of esp was significantly higher (P = 0.03) in clinical VREF isolates (92%) than in fecal VREF isolates (73%). In Italy, the prevalence of esp was significantly higher (P = 0.02) in VREF isolates (91%) than in VSEF isolates (68%), whereas in the United Kingdom, hyl was significantly more prevalent (P = 0.01) in VREF isolates (71%) than in VSEF isolates (29%). No significant differences were found for the other countries. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis was used to check the clonality among the strains tested and showed the spread of two center-specific (esp-positive) VREF clones in Italy and one center-specific (hyl-positive) clone in the United Kingdom. These clones were resistant to ampicillin, gentamicin, and streptomycin. The multiplex PCR reported in this study is a convenient and rapid method for the simultaneous detection of the virulence genes asa1, gelE, cylA, esp, and hyl in enterococci. Molecular analysis showed the intrahospital spread of esp-positive VREF clones (in Italy) and hyl-positive VREF clones (in the United Kingdom); the role of hyl remains to be elucidated.

                Author and article information

                Biomed Res Int
                Biomed Res Int
                BioMed Research International
                1 November 2018
                : 2018
                : 5308464
                1Laboratory of Microorganisms and Biomolecules, Center of Biotechnology of Sfax, University of Sfax, Road of Sidi Mansour Km 6, P.O. Box 1177, 3018, Tunisia
                2Laboratory of Molecular Biotechnology of Eukaryotes, Center of Biotechnology of Sfax, University of Sfax, Road of Sidi Mansour Km 6, P.O. Box 1177, 3018, Tunisia
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Heather Simpson

                Author information
                Copyright © 2018 Ahlem Chakchouk-Mtibaa et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 10 July 2018
                : 9 October 2018
                Funded by: Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research
                Research Article


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