International journal of medical microbiology : IJMM

Expression of the large clostridial toxins is controlled by conserved regulatory mechanisms.

PMID 25190355


The clostridia cause many human and animal diseases, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Host damage results from the action of potent exotoxins, an important group of which is the large clostridial toxins (LCTs) produced by Clostridium difficile, Clostridium sordellii, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium novyi. Knowledge of the structure and function of these toxins has been attained, however, apart from C. difficile, the regulatory pathways that control LCT production remain largely unknown. Here we show that LCT production in C. sordellii and C. perfringens is temporally regulated and repressed by glucose in a similar manner to C. difficile. Furthermore, we show that the TpeL-encoding gene of C. perfringens is located in an uncharacterized Pathogenicity Locus (PaLoc), along with accessory genes predicted to encode a bacteriophage holin-type protein and a TcdR-family alternative sigma factor, TpeR. Inactivation of tpeR demonstrated that TpeR is critical for C. perfringens TpeL production, in a similar manner to C. difficile TcdR and C. sordellii TcsR, but cross-complementation showed that TpeR is not functionally interchangeable with TcdR or TcsR. Although conserved mechanisms are employed by the clostridia to control LCT production there are important functional differences that distinguish members of the TcdR-family of clostridial alternative sigma factors.