Genetic diversity of Clostridium perfringens type A isolates from animals, food poisoning outbreaks and sludge.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Clostridium perfringens, a serious pathogen, causes enteric diseases in domestic animals and food poisoning in humans. The epidemiological relationship between C. perfringens isolates from the same source has previously been investigated chiefly by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). In this study the genetic diversity of C. perfringens isolated from various animals, from food poisoning outbreaks and from sludge was investigated. RESULTS: We used PFGE to examine the genetic diversity of 95 C. perfringens type A isolates from eight different sources. The isolates were also examined for the presence of the beta2 toxin gene (cpb2) and the enterotoxin gene (cpe). The cpb2 gene from the 28 cpb2-positive isolates was also partially sequenced (519 bp, corresponding to positions 188 to 706 in the consensus cpb2 sequence). The results of PFGE revealed a wide genetic diversity among the C. perfringens type A isolates. The genetic relatedness of the isolates ranged from 58 to 100% and 56 distinct PFGE types were identified. Almost all clusters with similar patterns comprised isolates with a known epidemiological correlation. Most of the isolates from pig, horse and sheep carried the cpb2 gene. All isolates originating from food poisoning outbreaks carried the cpe gene and three of these also carried cpb2. Two evolutionary different populations were identified by sequence analysis of the partially sequenced cpb2 genes from our study and cpb2 sequences previously deposited in GenBank. CONCLUSION: As revealed by PFGE, there was a wide genetic diversity among C. perfringens isolates from different sources. Epidemiologically related isolates showed a high genetic similarity, as expected, while isolates with no obvious epidemiological relationship expressed a lesser degree of genetic similarity. The wide diversity revealed by PFGE was not reflected in the 16S rRNA sequences, which had a considerable degree of sequence similarity. Sequence comparison of the partially sequenced cpb2 gene revealed two genetically different populations. This is to our knowledge the first study in which the genetic diversity of C. perfringens isolates both from different animals species, from food poisoning outbreaks and from sludge has been investigated.
Project description:Enterotoxin-producing Clostridium perfringens type A isolates are an important cause of food poisoning and non-food-borne human gastrointestinal diseases, e.g., sporadic diarrhea (SPOR) and antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). The enterotoxin gene (cpe) is usually chromosomal in food poisoning isolates but plasmid-borne in AAD/SPOR isolates. Previous studies determined that type A SPOR isolate F5603 has a plasmid (pCPF5603) carrying cpe, IS1151, and the beta2 toxin gene (cpb2), while type A SPOR isolate F4969 has a plasmid (pCPF4969) lacking cpb2 and IS1151 but carrying cpe and IS1470-like sequences. By completely sequencing these two cpe plasmids, the current study identified pCPF5603 as a 75.3-kb plasmid carrying 73 open reading frames (ORFs) and pCPF4969 as a 70.5-kb plasmid carrying 62 ORFs. These plasmids share an approximately 35-kb conserved region that potentially encodes virulence factors and carries ORFs found on the conjugative transposon Tn916. The 34.5-kb pCPF4969 variable region contains ORFs that putatively encode two bacteriocins and a two-component regulator similar to VirR/VirS, while the approximately 43.6-kb pCPF5603 variable region contains a functional cpb2 gene and several metabolic genes. Diversity studies indicated that other type A plasmid cpe+/IS1151 SPOR/AAD isolates carry a pCPF5603-like plasmid, while other type A plasmid cpe+/IS1470-like SPOR/AAD isolates carry a pCPF4969-like plasmid. Tn916-related ORFs similar to those in pCPF4969 (known to transfer conjugatively) were detected in the cpe plasmids of other type A SPOR/AAD isolates, as well as in representative C. perfringens type B to D isolates carrying other virulence plasmids, possibly suggesting that most or all C. perfringens virulence plasmids transfer conjugatively.
Project description:Clostridium perfringens is an important anaerobic pathogen causing food-borne gastrointestinal (GI) diseases in humans and animals. It is thought that C. perfringens food poisoning isolates typically carry the enterotoxin gene (cpe) on their chromosome, while isolates from other GI diseases, such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea, carry cpe on a transferable plasmid. However, food-borne GI disease outbreaks associated with C. perfringens isolates carrying plasmid-borne cpe (plasmid cpe isolates) were recently reported in Japan and Europe. To investigate whether retail food can be a reservoir for food poisoning generally, we evaluated Japanese retail meat products for the presence of two genotypes of enterotoxigenic C. perfringens. Our results demonstrated that approximately 70% of the Japanese retail raw meat samples tested were contaminated with low numbers of C. perfringens bacteria and 4% were contaminated with cpe-positive C. perfringens. Most of the cpe-positive C. perfringens isolates obtained from Japanese retail meat carried cpe on a plasmid. The plasmid cpe isolates exhibited lower spore heat resistance than did chromosomal cpe isolates. Collectively, these plasmid cpe isolates might be causative agents of food poisoning when foods are contaminated with these isolates from equipment and/or the environment after cooking, or they may survive in food that has not been cooked at a high enough temperature.
Project description:Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens) is responsible for food-borne gastroenteritis and other infectious diseases, and toxins produced by this bacterium play a key role in pathogenesis. Although various toxins have been described for C. perfringens isolates from humans and animals, prevalence of individual toxins among clinical isolates has not yet been well explored. In the present study, a total of 798 C. perfringens clinical isolates were investigated for prevalence of eight toxin genes and their genetic diversity by PCR, nucleotide sequencing, and phylogenetic analysis. Besides the alpha-toxin gene (plc) present in all the isolates, the most common toxin gene was cpe (enterotoxin) (34.2%), followed by cpb2 (beta2 toxin) (1.4%), netB (NetB) (0.3%), and bec/cpile (binary enterotoxin BEC/CPILE) (0.1%), while beta-, epsilon-, and iota-toxin genes were not detected. Genetic analysis of toxin genes indicated a high level of conservation of plc, cpe, and netB. In contrast, cpb2 was revealed to be considerably divergent, containing at least two lineages. Alpha-toxin among 46 isolates was classified into ten sequence types, among which common types were distinct from those reported for avian isolates. A single isolate with bec/cpile harbored a plc variant containing an insertion of 834-bp sequence, suggesting its putative origin from chickens.
Project description:Clostridium perfringens type A isolates producing enterotoxin (CPE) are an important cause of food poisoning and non-food-borne human gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, including antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). Recent studies suggest that C. perfringens type A food poisoning is caused by C. perfringens isolates carrying a chromosomal cpe gene, while CPE-associated non-food-borne GI diseases, such as AAD, are caused by plasmid cpe isolates. Those putative relationships, obtained predominantly with European isolates, were tested in the current study by examining 34 cpe-positive, C. perfringens fecal isolates from North American cases of food poisoning or AAD. These North American disease isolates were all classified as type A using a multiplex PCR assay. Furthermore, restriction fragment length polymorphism and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis genotyping analyses showed the North American AAD isolates included in this collection all have a plasmid cpe gene, but the North American food poisoning isolates all carry a chromosomal cpe gene. Western blotting demonstrated CPE expression by nearly all of these disease isolates, confirming their virulence potential. These findings with North American isolates provide important new evidence that, regardless of geographic origin or date of isolation, plasmid cpe isolates cause most CPE-associated AAD cases and chromosomal cpe isolates cause most C. perfringens type A food poisoning cases. These findings hold importance for the development of assays for distinguishing cases of CPE-associated food-borne and non-food-borne human GI illnesses and also identify potential epidemiologic tools for determining the reservoirs for these illnesses.
Project description:In the United States and Europe, food poisoning due to Clostridium perfringens type A is predominantly caused by C. perfringens isolates carrying a chromosomal enterotoxin gene (cpe). Neither the reservoir for these isolates nor the point in the food chain where these bacteria contaminate foods is currently understood. Therefore, the current study investigated whether type A isolates carrying a chromosomal cpe gene are present in two potential reservoirs, i.e., soil and home kitchen surfaces. No C. perfringens isolates were recovered from home kitchen surfaces, but most surveyed soil samples contained C. perfringens. The recovered soil isolates were predominantly type A, but some type C, D, and E soil isolates were also identified. All cpe-positive isolates recovered from soil were genotyped as type A, with their cpe genes on cpe plasmids rather than the chromosome. However, two cpe-positive soil isolates did not carry a classical cpe plasmid. Both of those atypical cpe-positive soil isolates were sporulation capable yet failed to produce C. perfringens enterotoxin, possibly because of differences in their upstream promoter regions. Collectively these results suggest that neither soil nor home kitchen surfaces represent major reservoirs for type A isolates with chromosomal cpe that cause food poisoning, although soil does appear to be a reservoir for cpe-positive isolates causing non-food-borne gastrointestinal diseases.
Project description:Of 98 suspected food-borne Clostridium perfringens isolates obtained from a nationwide survey by the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority in The Netherlands, 59 strains were identified as C. perfringens type A. Using PCR-based techniques, the cpe gene encoding enterotoxin was detected in eight isolates, showing a chromosomal location for seven isolates and a plasmid location for one isolate. Further characterization of these strains by using (GTG)(5) fingerprint repetitive sequence-based PCR analysis distinguished C. perfringens from other sulfite-reducing clostridia but did not allow for differentiation between various types of C. perfringens strains. To characterize the C. perfringens strains further, multilocus sequence typing (MLST) analysis was performed on eight housekeeping genes of both enterotoxic and non-cpe isolates, and the data were combined with a previous global survey covering strains associated with food poisoning, gas gangrene, and isolates from food or healthy individuals. This revealed that the chromosomal cpe strains (food strains and isolates from food poisoning cases) belong to a distinct cluster that is significantly distant from all the other cpe plasmid-carrying and cpe-negative strains. These results suggest that different groups of C. perfringens have undergone niche specialization and that a distinct group of food isolates has specific core genome sequences. Such findings have epidemiological and evolutionary significance. Better understanding of the origin and reservoir of enterotoxic C. perfringens may allow for improved control of this organism in foods.
Project description:Clostridium perfringens type D isolates are important in biodefense and also cause natural enterotoxemias in sheep, goats, and occasionally cattle. In these isolates, the gene (etx) encoding epsilon-toxin is thought to reside on poorly characterized large plasmids. Type D isolates sometimes also produce other potentially plasmid-encoded toxins, including C. perfringens enterotoxin and beta2 toxin, encoded by the cpe and cbp2 genes, respectively. In the current study we demonstrated that the etx, cpe, and cpb2 genes are carried on plasmids in type D isolates and characterized the toxin-encoding plasmids to obtain insight into their genetic organization, potential transferability, and diversity. Southern blotting of pulsed-field gels showed that the etx gene of type D isolates can be present on at least five different plasmids, whose sizes range from 48 to 110 kb. The etx plasmids also typically carried IS1151 and tcp open reading frames (ORFs) known to mediate conjugative transfer of C. perfringens plasmid pCW3. PCR studies revealed that other than their tcp ORFs, etx plasmids of type D isolates do not carry substantial portions of the conserved or variable regions in the cpe plasmids of type A isolates. Southern blotting also demonstrated that in type D isolates the cpe and cpb2 genes are sometimes present on the etx plasmid. Collectively, these findings confirmed that the virulence of type D isolates is heavily plasmid dependent and indicated that (i) a single type D isolate can carry multiple virulence plasmids, (ii) a single type D virulence plasmid can carry up to three different toxin genes, and (iii) many etx plasmids should be capable of conjugative transfer.
Project description:Clostridium perfringens is a major enteric pathogen known to cause gastroenteritis in human adults. Although major outbreak cases are frequently reported, only limited whole-genome sequencing (WGS) based studies have been performed to understand the genomic epidemiology and virulence gene content of outbreak-associated C. perfringens strains. We performed phylogenomic analysis on 109 C. perfringens isolates (human and food) obtained from disease cases in England and Wales between 2011 and 2017. Initial findings highlighted the enhanced discriminatory power of WGS in profiling outbreak C. perfringens strains, when compared to the current Public Health England referencing laboratory technique of fluorescent amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis. Further analysis identified that isogenic C. perfringens strains were associated with nine distinct care-home-associated outbreaks over the course of a 5-year interval, indicating a potential common source linked to these outbreaks or transmission over time and space. As expected, the enterotoxin cpe gene was encoded in all but 4 isolates (96.3 %; 105/109), with virulence plasmids encoding cpe (particularly pCPF5603 and pCPF4969 plasmids) extensively distributed (82.6 %; 90/109). Genes encoding accessory virulence factors, such as beta-2 toxin, were commonly detected (46.7 %; 51/109), and genes encoding phage proteins were also frequently identified. Overall, this large-scale genomic study of gastroenteritis-associated C. perfringens suggested that three major cpe-encoding (toxinotype F) genotypes underlie these outbreaks: strains carrying (1) pCPF5603 plasmid, (2) pCPF4969 plasmid and (3) chromosomal-cpe strains. Our findings substantially expanded our knowledge on type F C. perfringens involved in human-associated gastroenteritis, with further studies required to fully probe the dissemination and regional reservoirs of this enteric pathogen, which may help devise effective prevention strategies to reduce the food-poisoning disease burden in vulnerable patients, such as the elderly.
Project description:Clostridium perfringens type A isolates causing food poisoning have a chromosomal enterotoxin gene (cpe), while C. perfringens type A isolates responsible for non-food-borne human gastrointestinal diseases carry a plasmid cpe gene. In the present study, the plasmid cpe locus of the type A non-food-borne-disease isolate F4969 was sequenced to design primers and probes for comparative PCR and Southern blot studies of the cpe locus in other type A isolates. Those analyses determined that the region upstream of the plasmid cpe gene is highly conserved among type A isolates carrying a cpe plasmid. The organization of the type A plasmid cpe locus was also found to be unique, as it contains IS1469 sequences located similarly to those in the chromosomal cpe locus but lacks the IS1470 sequences found upstream of IS1469 in the chromosomal cpe locus. Instead of those upstream IS1470 sequences, a partial open reading frame potentially encoding cytosine methylase (dcm) was identified upstream of IS1469 in the plasmid cpe locus of all type A isolates tested. Similar dcm sequences were also detected in several cpe-negative C. perfringens isolates carrying plasmids but not in type A isolates carrying a chromosomal cpe gene. Contrary to previous reports, sequences homologous to IS1470, rather than IS1151, were found downstream of the plasmid cpe gene in most type A isolates tested. Those IS1470-like sequences reside in about the same position but are oppositely oriented and defective relative to the IS1470 sequences found downstream of the chromosomal cpe gene. Collectively, these and previous results suggest that the cpe plasmid of many type A isolates originated from integration of a cpe-containing genetic element near the dcm sequences of a C. perfringens plasmid. The similarity of the plasmid cpe locus in many type A isolates is consistent with horizontal transfer of a common cpe plasmid among C. perfringens type A strains.
Project description:The present study was undertaken to confirm the genetic identity of Clostridium perfringens isolates from domestic livestock in Saudi Arabia and to characterize the genes encoding to alpha, beta, epsilon, and iota (?-, ?-, ?-, and ?-) toxins. C. perfringens were confirmed in 104 out of 136 isolates on multiplex polymerase chain reaction using specific primers amplifying genes related to toxins produced by C. perfringens. Genes encoding ?-toxins were detected in 104 samples. Of the isolates, 80.8% were diagnosed as type A, 15.4% as type D, 2.9% as type C, and 0.96% as type B. None of the isolates has genes encoding iota (?-) toxin. All isolates investigated yielded enterotoxin (cpe) products and none yielded ?2 (cpb2-toxin) or NetB products. PLC gene sequences encoding ?-toxin showed >96.7% similarity. Isolates which had ?-toxins as well as enterotoxin (cpe) are regarded as type F. Phylogenetic analysis using maximum likelihood analysis yielded two clades, and the majority of the isolates were in one group while only two isolates clustered on the second clade. Within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia strains, 54 variable positions and 23 polymorphic amino acids were noticed. Isolates with ?- and ?-toxins were variable and were found to be close to those published for C. perfringens. ETX gene sequences encoding ?-toxins were found to be related to CPE sequences.