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The Agr-Like Quorum-Sensing System Regulates Sporulation and Production of Enterotoxin and Beta2 Toxin by Clostridium perfringens Type A Non-Food-Borne Human Gastrointestinal Disease Strain F5603

Li, Jihong, Chen, Jianming, Vidal, Jorge E., McClane, Bruce A.
Infection and immunity 2011 v.79 no.6 pp. 2451-2459
Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium sporogenes, bacterial toxins, enterotoxins, foodborne illness, gastrointestinal system, humans, loci, mutants, pathogenesis, quorum sensing, sigma factors, spores, sporulation
Clostridium perfringens type A strains producing enterotoxin (CPE) cause one of the most common bacterial food-borne illnesses, as well as many cases of non-food-borne human gastrointestinal disease. Recent studies have shown that an Agr-like quorum-sensing system controls production of chromosomally encoded alpha-toxin and perfringolysin O by C. perfringens, as well as sporulation by Clostridium botulinum and Clostridium sporogenes. The current study explored whether the Agr-like quorum-sensing system also regulates sporulation and production of two plasmid-encoded toxins (CPE and beta2 toxin) that may contribute to the pathogenesis of non-food-borne human gastrointestinal disease strain F5603. An isogenic agrB null mutant was inhibited for production of beta2 toxin during vegetative growth and in sporulating culture, providing the first evidence that, in C. perfringens, this system can control production of plasmid-encoded toxins as well as chromosomally encoded toxins. This mutant also showed reduced production of alpha-toxin and perfringolysin O during vegetative growth. Importantly, when cultured in sporulation medium, the mutant failed to efficiently form spores and was blocked for CPE production. Complementation partially or fully reversed all phenotypic changes in the mutant, confirming that they were specifically due to inactivation of the agr locus. Western blots suggest that this loss of sporulation and sporulation-specific CPE production for the agrB null mutant involves, at least in part, Agr-mediated regulation of production of Spo0A and alternative sigma factors, which are essential for C. perfringens sporulation.