Summary

To identify critical microbial determinant(s) in serum resistance and in vivo virulence, 5 strains of Escherichia coli with different combinations of K and O types were examined along with their unencapsulated mutants. All 3 E. coli strains possessing the K1 capsule were considerably more resistant to normal human serum in vitro and more virulent in newborn rats than their isogenic mutants lacking the K1 capsule. In contrast, two K5 encapsulated strains and their unencapsulated mutants were essentially the same for their degree of serum resistance and in vivo virulence. These findings suggest that for the demonstration of serum resistance and in vivo virulence, a capsule is required for E. coli strains encapsulated with K1, whereas certain E. coli strains encapsulated with K5 may not need a capsule.

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