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Toxins (Basel). 2013 Jan 11;5(1):106-19. doi: 10.3390/toxins5010106.

Difference in F-actin depolymerization induced by toxin B from the Clostridium difficile strain VPI 10463 and toxin B from the variant Clostridium difficile serotype F strain 1470.

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Institute of Toxicology Hannover Medical School, Hannover D-30625, Germany.


Clostridium difficile toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB) are the causative agent of the C. difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) and its severe form, the pseudomembranous colitis (PMC). TcdB from the C. difficile strain VPI10463 mono-glucosylates (thereby inactivates) the small GTPases Rho, Rac, and Cdc42, while Toxin B from the variant C. difficile strain serotype F 1470 (TcdBF) specifically mono-glucosylates Rac but not Rho(A/B/C). TcdBF is related to lethal toxin from C. sordellii (TcsL) that glucosylates Rac1 but not Rho(A/B/C). In this study, the effects of Rho-inactivating toxins on the concentrations of cellular F-actin were investigated using the rhodamine-phalloidin-based F-actin ELISA. TcdB induces F-actin depolymerization comparable to the RhoA-inactivating exoenzyme C3 from C. limosum (C3-lim). In contrast, the Rac-glucosylating toxins TcdBF and TcsL did not cause F-actin depolymerization. These observations led to the conclusion that F-actin depolymerization depends on the toxin's capability of glucosylating RhoA. Furthermore, the integrity of focal adhesions (FAs) was analyzed using paxillin and p21-activated kinase (PAK) as FA marker proteins. Paxillin dephosphorylation was observed upon treatment of cells with TcdB, TcdBF, or C3-lim. In conclusion, the Rho-inactivating toxins induce loss of cell shape by either F-actin depolymerization (upon RhoA inactivation) or the disassembly of FAs (upon Rac1 inactivation).

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