Revisiting the molecular evolutionary history of shigella spp

J. Yang, H. Nie, L. Chen, X. Zhang, F. Yang, x. Xu, Y. Zhu, J. Yu, J. Qi

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69 Citations (Scopus)


The theory that Shigella is derived from multiple independent origins of Escherichia coli (Pupo et al. 2000) has been challenged by recent findings that the virulence plasmids (VPs) and the chromosomes share a similar evolutionary history (Escobar-Paramo et al. 2003), which suggests that an ancestral VP entered an E. coli strain only once, which gave rise to Shigella spp. In an attempt to resolve these conflicting theories, we constructed three phylogenetic trees in this study: a robust chromosomal tree using 23 housekeeping genes from 46
strains of Shigella and enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC),a chromosomal tree using 4 housekeeping genes from 19 EcoR strains and 46 Shigella/EIEC strains, and a
VP tree using 5 genes outside of the VP cell-entry region from 38 Shigella/EIEC strains. Both chromosomal trees group Shigella into three main clusters and five outliers, and strongly suggest that Shigella has multiple origins within E. coli. Most strikingly, the VP tree shows that the VPs from two main Shigella clusters, C1 and C2, are more closely related, which contradicts the chromosomal trees that place
C2 and C3 next to each other but C1 at a distance. Additionally, we have identified a complete tra operon of the F-plasmid in the genome sequence of an
EIEC strain and found that two other EIEC strains are also likely to possess a complete tra operon. All lines of evidence support an alternative multiorigin
theory that transferable diverse ancestral VPs entered diverse origins of E. coli multiple times during a prolonged period of time, resulting in Shigella species
with diverse genomes but similar pathogenic properties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • shigella
  • enteroinvasive E. coli
  • escherichia coli
  • phylogeny
  • multiorigin
  • tra operon
  • Transferable virulence plasmids


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