The presence of tosA in an E. coli isolate predicts successful colonization of the murine model of ascending UTI, regardless of the source of the isolate. Here, a detailed analysis of the function of tosA revealed that this gene is transcriptionally linked to genes encoding a conserved type 1 secretion system similar to other RTX family members. TosA localized to the cell surface and was found to mediate (i) adherence to host cells derived from the upper urinary tract and (ii) survival in disseminated infections and (iii) to enhance lethality during sepsis (as assessed in two different animal models of infection). An experimental vaccine, using purified TosA, protected vaccinated animals against urosepsis.
From this work, it was concluded that TosA belongs to a novel group of RTX proteins that mediate adherence and host damage during UTI and urosepsis and could be a novel target for the development of therapeutics to treat ascending UTIs.