TitleCarbon catabolite repression of type IV pilus-dependent gliding motility in the anaerobic pathogen Clostridium perfringens.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsMendez, M, Huang, I-H, Ohtani, K, Grau, R, Shimizu, T, Sarker, MR
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Date Published2008 Jan
KeywordsRepressor Proteins

Clostridium perfringens is an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium responsible for the production of severe histotoxic and gastrointestinal diseases in humans and animals. In silico analysis of the three available genome-sequenced C. perfringens strains (13, SM101, and ATCC13124) revealed that genes that encode flagellar proteins and genes involved in chemotaxis are absent. However, those strains exhibit type IV pilus (TFP)-dependent gliding motility. Since carbon catabolite regulation has been implicated in the control of different bacterial behaviors, we investigated the effects of glucose and other readily metabolized carbohydrates on C. perfringens gliding motility. Our results demonstrate that carbon catabolite regulation constitutes an important physiological regulatory mechanism that reduces the proficiencies of the gliding motilities of a large number of unrelated human- and animal-derived pathogenic C. perfringens strains. Glucose produces a strong dose-dependent inhibition of gliding development without affecting vegetative growth. Maximum gliding inhibition was observed at a glucose concentration (1%) previously reported to also inhibit other important behaviors in C. perfringens, such as spore development. The inhibition of gliding development in the presence of glucose was due, at least in part, to the repression of the genes pilT and pilD, whose products are essential for TFP-dependent gliding proficiency. The inhibitory effects of glucose on pilT and pilD expression were under the control of the key regulatory protein CcpA (catabolite control protein A). The deficiency in CcpA activity of a ccpA knockout C. perfringens mutant strain restored the expressions of pilT and pilD and gliding proficiency in the presence of 1% glucose. The carbon catabolite repression of the gliding motility of the ccpA mutant strain was restored after the introduction of a complementing plasmid harboring a wild-type copy of ccpA. These results point to a central role for CcpA in orchestrating the negative effect of carbon catabolite regulation on C. perfringens gliding motility. Furthermore, we discovered a novel positive role for CcpA in pilT and pilD expression and gliding proficiency in the absence of catabolite regulation. Carbon catabolite repression of gliding motility and the dual role of CcpA, either as repressor or as activator of gliding, are analyzed in the context of the different social behaviors and diseases produced by C. perfringens.