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Vet Microbiol. 2011 Nov 21;153(1-2):37-43. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2011.02.048. Epub 2011 Feb 26.

Recent progress in understanding the pathogenesis of Clostridium perfringens type C infections.

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California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, San Bernardino Branch, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, 105 W Central Ave, San Bernardino, CA 92408, USA.


Clostridium perfringens type C causes necrotizing enteritis in humans and several other animal species. Type C isolates must produce at least beta toxin (CPB) and alpha toxin (CPA) and most strains produce several other toxins including perfringolysin O (PFO) and TpeL. However, current evidence indicates that CPB is the main virulence factor for type C infections. Most of this evidence is based upon the loss of virulence shown by isogenic type C CPB knock out mutants on cells, and also in rabbit intestinal loops and in mouse models. This virulence is regained when these mutants are complemented with the wild-type cpb gene. Many type C isolates respond to close contact with enterocyte-like Caco-2 cells by producing all toxins, except TpeL, much more rapidly than occurs during in vitro growth. This in vivo effect involves rapid transcriptional upregulation of the cpb, cpb2, pfoA and plc toxin genes. Rapid Caco-2 cell-induced upregulation of CPB and PFO production involves the VirS/VirR two-component system, since upregulated in vivo transcription of the pfoA and cpb genes was blocked by inactivating the virR gene and was reversible by complementation to restore VirR expression.

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