Medical Definition of Pathogenicity island

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Pathogenicity island: The genetic element, the "island of evil", within the genome of an organism that is responsible for its capacity to cause disease (its pathogenicity). The virulence of the organism is modulated by genes harbored on this island.

For example, enterococci are part of the normal bacterial flora of the intestine but are also notorious causes of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections highly resistant to antibiotics. The virulence determinants of enterococci have been found clustered on a large pathogenicity island.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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