C. difficile 630Δerm Spo0A regulates sporulation, but does not contribute to toxin production, by direct high-affinity binding to target DNA

Katharina E. Rosenbusch, Dennis Bakker, Ed J. Kuijper, Wiep Klaas Smits*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Clostridium difficile is a Gram positive, anaerobic bacterium that can form highly resistant endospores. The bacterium is the causative agent of C. difficile infection (CDI), for which the symptoms can range from a mild diarrhea to potentially fatal pseudomembranous colitis and toxic megacolon. Endospore formation in Firmicutes, including C. difficile, is governed by the key regulator for sporulation, Spo0A. In Bacillus subtilis, this transcription factor is also directly or indirectly involved in various other cellular processes. Here, we report that C. difficile Spo0A shows a high degree of similarity to the well characterized B. subtilis protein and recognizes a similar binding sequence. We find that the laboratory strain C. difficile 630Δerm contains an 18bp-duplication near the DNA-binding domain compared to its ancestral strain 630. In vitro binding assays using purified C-terminal DNA binding domain of the C. difficile Spo0A protein demonstrate direct binding to DNA upstream of spo0A and sigH, early sporulation genes and several other putative targets. In vitro binding assays suggest that the gene encoding the major clostridial toxin TcdB may be a direct target of Spo0A, but supernatant derived from a spo0A negative strain was no less toxic towards Vero cells than that obtained from a wild type strain, in contrast to previous reports. These results identify for the first time direct (putative) targets of the Spo0A protein in C. difficile and make a positive effect of Spo0A on production of the large clostridial toxins unlikely.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere48608
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume7
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins/genetics
  • Bacterial Toxins/genetics
  • Binding Sites/genetics
  • Blotting, Western
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Clostridioides difficile/genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial/genetics
  • Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic/genetics
  • Protein Binding
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sigma Factor/genetics
  • Spores, Bacterial/genetics
  • Transcription Factors/genetics
  • Vero Cells

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