Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
PLoS One. 2013 Apr 16;8(4):e61404. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061404. Print 2013.

Concerted action of sphingomyelinase and non-hemolytic enterotoxin in pathogenic Bacillus cereus.

Author information

Abteilung Mikrobiologie, Zentralinstitut für Ernährungs- und Lebensmittelforschung ZIEL, Technische Universität München, Freising Weihenstephan, Germany.


Bacillus cereus causes food poisoning and serious non-gastrointestinal-tract infections. Non-hemolytic enterotoxin (Nhe), which is present in most B. cereus strains, is considered to be one of the main virulence factors. However, a B. cereus ΔnheBC mutant strain lacking Nhe is still cytotoxic to intestinal epithelial cells. In a screen for additional cytotoxic factors using an in vitro model for polarized colon epithelial cells we identified B. cereus sphingomyelinase (SMase) as a strong inducer of epithelial cell death. Using single and double deletion mutants of sph, the gene encoding for SMase, and nheBC in B. cereus we demonstrated that SMase is an important factor for B. cereus cytotoxicity in vitro and pathogenicity in vivo. SMase substantially complemented Nhe induced cytotoxicity in vitro. In addition, SMase but not Nhe contributed significantly to the mortality rate of larvae in vivo in the insect model Galleria mellonella. Our study suggests that the role of B. cereus SMase as a secreted virulence factor for in vivo pathogenesis has been underestimated and that Nhe and SMase complement each other significantly to cause full B. cereus virulence hence disease formation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center