To determine if these isolates showed the she PAI associated with the set1 gene, the presence of other genes contained in this PAI, the pic, sigA and sap genes, was studied. Only two isolates carried the three genes indicating the presence of the whole island, 22 showed the pic and sap genes and eight only the pic gene. This indicates the high variability Raf targets in the structure of this PAI. In contrast to the ShET-1 toxin, the ShET-2 toxin encoded by the sen gene was more frequent among isolates collected from patients who had taken quinolones before isolation of the bacteria. This toxin was significantly more frequent among nalidixic
acid-resistant isolates (15% vs. 6%, P=0.046), and 35% of ShET2-positive Navitoclax order isolates belonged to phylogenetic group B1 (P=0.0001). The EAST-1 toxin was more frequently found in the E. coli isolates collected from patients with septic shock (19% vs.
8%, P=0.07). No B2 isolates had this toxin; it was more frequently found among isolates belonging to the A, B1 and D phylogenetic groups (P=0.02). Finally, the AggR transcriptional factor encoded by the aggR gene was more frequently found among isolates collected from patients with chronic renal insufficiency (37.8% vs. 12%, P=0.03) and from patients with pneumonia (33% vs. 12%, P=0.09). The presence of this transcriptional factor was not associated with any phylogenetic group, and it was more frequently found among isolates forming biofilm (18% vs. 9%, P=0.08) (Table 1). The presence of genes encoding enterotoxins and a transcriptional factor involved in virulence were analysed in E. coli isolates collected from patients with bacteraemia. The ShET-1 toxin has been described in S. flexneri 2a and has also been detected in other bacterial taxa such as Y. enterocolitica, S. typhimurium and E. coli (Al-Hasani et al., 2001). This toxin has been found in EAEC causing diarrhoea (Mohamed et al., 2007; Mendez-Arancibia et al.,
2008). In both of these studies, an association was observed between the presence of the set1 gene and biofilm production. Thus, 43% of biofilm producers presented this gene in contrast to 6% of nonbiofilm producers (P=0.0004). These results are in agreement with those obtained in the present study. This ability to form biofilm is a trait that is closely associated with bacterial persistence and virulence, and many persistent Urease and chronic bacterial infections are now believed to be linked to the formation of biofilm (Mohamed et al., 2007). There seems to be a relationship between the presence of the set1 gene and nalidixic acid susceptibility. In fact, set1 was more frequent among nalidixic acid-susceptible isolates. A possible explanation for this phenomenon may be that this gene is contained in the she PAI. This PAI is a chromosomal, laterally acquired, integrative element of S. flexnerii that carries genes with established or putative roles in virulence (Mohamed et al., 2007).