Identification of a novel virulence factor in Clostridium Difficile that modulates toxin sensitivity of cultured epithelial cells

Masashi Miura, Haru Kato, Osamu Matsushita

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Two glucosylating toxins named toxins A and B play a role in the pathogenesis of Clostridium difficile infection. The interaction of the toxins with host cell factors proceeds to downstream stages of cytotoxic effects in cells, in which involvement of other C. difficile factors remains unknown. We utilized culture filtrate of C. difficile with a low dilution to characterize the influence of putative minor proteins on the organization of the actin cytoskeleton in cultured epithelial cells and found a previously uncharacterized F-actin aggregated structure, termed "actin aggregate," at the juxtanuclear region. We reasoned that formation of actin aggregate was due to an additional factor(s) in the culture filtrate rather than the glucosylating toxins, because treatment of purified toxins rarely caused actin aggregate in cells. We focused on a previously uncharacterized hypothetical protein harboring a KDEL-like sequence as a candidate. The product of the candidate gene was detected in culture filtrate of C. difficile ATCC 9689 and was renamed Srl. Purified glutathione S-transferase-tagged Srl triggered formation of actin aggregate in the cells in the presence of either toxin A or B and enhanced cytotoxicity of each of the two toxins, including decreases in both cell viability and transepithelial resistance of cultured epithelial monolayer, although the recombinant Srl alone did not show detectable cytotoxicity. Srl-neutralized culture filtrate partially inhibited morphological changes of the cells in parallel with decreased actin aggregate formation in the cells. Thus, Srl might contribute to the modulation of toxin sensitivity of intestinal epithelial cells by enhancing cytotoxicity of C. difficile toxins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3810-3820
Number of pages11
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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