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Int J Food Microbiol. 2002 Apr 5;74(3):195-202.

Clostridium perfringens and foodborne infections.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Microbiology and Food Hygiene, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo.


Clostridium perfringens type A food poisoning is one of the more common in the industrialised world. This bacterium is also responsible for the rare but severe food borne necrotic enteritis. C. perfringens enterotoxin (CPE) has been shown to be the virulence factor responsible for causing the symptoms of C. perfringens type A food poisoning. CPE is a single polypeptide chain with a molecular weight of 3.5 kDa that binds to receptors on the target epithelial cells. Through a unique four-step membrane action it finally causes a breakdown in normal plasma membrane permeability properties. Genetic studies of cpe have shown that cpe can be either chromosomal or plasmid-borne and that only a small minority of the global C. perfringens population is cpe positive. CPE expression appears to be transcriptionally regulated during sporulation, at least in part, by regulatory factors that are common to all C. perfringens isolates.

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