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Microbiology. 2008 Nov;154(Pt 11):3430-6. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.2008/019778-0.

Induction of toxins in Clostridium difficile is associated with dramatic changes of its metabolism.

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Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Department of Bacteriology, Solna, Sweden.


Certain amino acids, and cysteine in particular, promptly blocked toxin expression in Clostridium difficile strain VPI 10463 when added to late-exponential-phase peptone-yeast cultures, i.e. prior to normal induction of toxins A and B. Glucose reduced toxin yields by 80-fold, but only when supplemented at inoculation. Forty upregulated C. difficile proteins were identified during maximum toxin expression, and most of these were enzymes involved in energy exchange, e.g. succinate, CO/folate and butyrate metabolism. Transcription of tcdA (toxin operon) and folD (CO/folate operon) was induced by 20- and 10-fold, respectively, and with strikingly similar kinetics between OD 0.8 and 1.2. The sigma factors tcdR and sigH were upregulated simultaneously with tcdA and folD (3.5-fold increase of mRNA level), whereas transcription of tcdC, codY, sigB and sigL showed little or no correlation with that of tcdA and folD. The results suggest a connection between toxin expression, alternative energy metabolism and initial sporulation events in C. difficile.

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