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Comparative Genomic Hybridization Analysis Shows Different Epidemiology of Chromosomal and Plasmid-Borne cpe-Carrying Clostridium perfringens Type A.

Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 10/2012; 7(10):e46162. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046162
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Clostridium perfringens, one of the most common causes of food poisonings, can carry the enterotoxin gene, cpe, in its chromosome or on a plasmid. C. perfringens food poisonings are more frequently caused by the chromosomal cpe-carrying strains, while the plasmid-borne cpe-positive genotypes are more commonly found in the human feces and environmental samples. Different tolerance to food processing conditions by the plasmid-borne and chromosomal cpe-carrying strains has been reported, but the reservoirs and contamination routes of enterotoxin-producing C. perfringens remain unknown. A comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) analysis with a DNA microarray based on three C. perfringens type A genomes was conducted to shed light on the epidemiology of C. perfringens food poisonings caused by plasmid-borne and chromosomal cpe-carrying strains by comparing chromosomal and plasmid-borne cpe-positive and cpe-negative C. perfringens isolates from human, animal, environmental, and food samples. The chromosomal and plasmid-borne cpe-positive C. perfringens genotypes formed two distinct clusters. Variable genes were involved with myo-inositol, ethanolamine and cellobiose metabolism, suggesting a new epidemiological model for C. perfringens food poisonings. The CGH results were complemented with growth studies, which demonstrated different myo-inositol, ethanolamine, and cellobiose metabolism between the chromosomal and plasmid-borne cpe-carrying strains. These findings support a ubiquitous occurrence of the plasmid-borne cpe-positive strains and their adaptation to the mammalian intestine, whereas the chromosomal cpe-positive strains appear to have a narrow niche in environments containing degrading plant material. Thus the epidemiology of the food poisonings caused by two populations appears different, the plasmid-borne cpe-positive strains probably contaminating foods via humans and the chromosomal strains being connected to plant material.

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    ABSTRACT: SUMMARY In both humans and animals, Clostridium perfringens is an important cause of histotoxic infections and diseases originating in the intestines, such as enteritis and enterotoxemia. The virulence of this Gram-positive, anaerobic bacterium is heavily dependent upon its prolific toxin-producing ability. Many of the ∼16 toxins produced by C. perfringens are encoded by large plasmids that range in size from ∼45 kb to ∼140 kb. These plasmid-encoded toxins are often closely associated with mobile elements. A C. perfringens strain can carry up to three different toxin plasmids, with a single plasmid carrying up to three distinct toxin genes. Molecular Koch's postulate analyses have established the importance of several plasmid-encoded toxins when C. perfringens disease strains cause enteritis or enterotoxemias. Many toxin plasmids are closely related, suggesting a common evolutionary origin. In particular, most toxin plasmids and some antibiotic resistance plasmids of C. perfringens share an ∼35-kb region containing a Tn916-related conjugation locus named tcp (transfer of clostridial plasmids). This tcp locus can mediate highly efficient conjugative transfer of these toxin or resistance plasmids. For example, conjugative transfer of a toxin plasmid from an infecting strain to C. perfringens normal intestinal flora strains may help to amplify and prolong an infection. Therefore, the presence of toxin genes on conjugative plasmids, particularly in association with insertion sequences that may mobilize these toxin genes, likely provides C. perfringens with considerable virulence plasticity and adaptability when it causes diseases originating in the gastrointestinal tract.
    Microbiology and molecular biology reviews: MMBR 06/2013; 77(2):208-233. DOI:10.1128/MMBR.00062-12 · 12.59 Impact Factor

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