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J Clin Microbiol. 2000 Sep;38(9):3179-86.

Phenotypic and genotypic diversity of the flagellin gene (fliC) among Clostridium difficile isolates from different serogroups.

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  • 1Faculté de Pharmacie, Département de Microbiologie, Université de Paris-Sud, 92296 Châtenay-Malabry Cedex, France.


Phenotypic and genotypic diversity of the flagellin gene (fliC) of Clostridium difficile was studied in 47 isolates from various origins belonging to the serogroups A, B, C, D, F, G, H, I, K, X, and S3. Electron microscopy revealed 17 nonflagellated strains and 30 flagellated strains. PCR and reverse transcription-PCR demonstrated that the flagellin gene was present in all strains and that the fliC gene was expressed in both flagellated and nonflagellated strains. Southern blotting showed the presence of only one copy of the gene and three different hybridization patterns. DNA sequence analysis of fliC from the strains belonging to serogroups C, D, and X, representative of each profile, disclosed great variability in the central domain, whereas the N- and C-terminal domains were conserved. The variability of the flagellin gene fliC was further studied in the isolates by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. Nine different RFLP groups were identified (I to IX), among which three (I, VII, and VIII) corresponded to numerous serogroups whereas the six others (II, III, IV, V, VI, and IX) belonged to a single serogroup. Flagellin gene RFLP analysis could constitute an additional typing method employable in conjunction with other typing methods currently available.

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