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Mol Microbiol. 2005 May;56(3):747-62.

Association of beta2 toxin production with Clostridium perfringens type A human gastrointestinal disease isolates carrying a plasmid enterotoxin gene.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, Molecular Virology and Microbiology Graduate Program, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


Clostridium perfringens type A isolates carrying an enterotoxin (cpe) gene are an important cause of human gastrointestinal diseases, including food poisoning, antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD) and sporadic diarrhoea (SD). Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the current study determined that the cpb2 gene encoding the recently discovered beta2 toxin is present in <15% of food poisoning isolates, which typically carry a chromosomal cpe gene. However, >75% of AAD/SD isolates, which usually carry a plasmid cpe gene, tested cpb2(+) by PCR. Western blot analysis demonstrated that >97% of those cpb2(+)/cpe(+) AAD/SD isolates can produce CPB2. Additional PCR analyses, sequencing studies and pulsed field gel electrophoresis experiments determined that AAD/SD isolates carry cpb2 and cpe on the same plasmid when IS1151 sequences are present downstream of cpe, but cpb2 and cpe are located on different plasmids in AAD/SD isolates where IS1470-like sequences are present downstream of cpe. Those analyses also demonstrated that two different CPB2 variants (named CPB2h1 or CPB2h2) can be produced by AAD/SD isolates, dependent on whether IS1470-like or IS1151 sequences are present downstream of their cpe gene. CPB2h1 is approximately 10-fold more cytotoxic for CaCo-2 cells than is CPB2h2. Collectively, these results suggest that CPB2 could be an accessory toxin in C. perfringens enterotoxin (CPE)-associated AAD/SD.

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