TitleCodY is a global regulator of virulence-associated properties for Clostridium perfringens type D strain CN3718.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsLi, J, Ma, M, Sarker, MR, McClane, BA
Date Published2013

UNLABELLED: CodY is known to regulate various virulence properties in several Gram-positive bacteria but has not yet been studied in the important histotoxic and intestinal pathogen Clostridium perfringens. The present study prepared an isogenic codY-null mutant in C. perfringens type D strain CN3718 by insertional mutagenesis using the Targetron system. Western blot analysis indicated that, relative to wild-type CN3718 or a complementing strain, this isogenic codY mutant produces reduced levels of epsilon toxin (ETX). Using supernatants from cultures of the wild-type, codY-null mutant, and complementing strains, CodY regulation of ETX production was shown to have cytotoxic consequences for MDCK cells. The CodY regulatory effect on ETX production was specific, since the codY-null mutant still made wild-type levels of alpha-toxin and perfringolysin O. Sialidase activity measurements and sialidase Western blot analysis of supernatants from CN3718 and its isogenic derivatives showed that CodY represses overall exosialidase activity due to a reduced presence of NanH in culture supernatants. Inactivation of the codY gene significantly decreased the adherence of CN3718 vegetative cells or spores to host Caco-2 cells. Finally, the codY mutant showed increased spore formation under vegetative growth conditions, although germination of these spores was impaired. Overall, these results identify CodY as a global regulator of many C. perfringens virulence-associated properties. Furthermore, they establish that, via CodY, CN3718 coordinately regulates many virulence-associated properties likely needed for intestinal infection. IMPORTANCE: Clostridium perfringens is a major human and livestock pathogen because it produces many potent toxins. C. perfringens type D strains cause intestinal infections by producing toxins, especially epsilon toxin (ETX). Previous studies identified CodY as a regulator of certain virulence properties in other Gram-positive bacteria. Our study now demonstrates that CodY is a global regulator of virulence-associated properties for type D strain CN3718. It promotes production of ETX, attachment of CN3718 vegetative cells or spores to host enterocyte-like Caco-2 cells, and spore germination; the last two effects may assist intestinal colonization. In contrast, CodY represses sporulation. These results provide the first evidence that CodY can function as a global regulator of C. perfringens virulence-associated properties and that this strain coordinately regulates its virulence-associated properties using CodY to increase ETX production, host cell attachment, and spore germination but to repress sporulation, as would be optimal during type D intestinal infection.