Prevalence of enterotoxigenic Clostridium perfringens Isolates in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) area soils and home kitchens.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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: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 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: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, 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.
Project description:Clostridium perfringens type D strains cause enterotoxemia and enteritis in livestock via epsilon toxin production. In type D strain CN3718, CodY was previously shown to increase the level of epsilon toxin production and repress sporulation. C. perfringens type A strains producing C. perfringens enterotoxin (CPE) cause human food poisoning and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Sporulation is critical for C. perfringens type A food poisoning since spores contribute to transmission and resistance in the harsh food environment and sporulation is essential for CPE production. Therefore, the current study asked whether CodY also regulates sporulation and CPE production in SM101, a derivative of C. perfringens type A food-poisoning strain NCTC8798. An isogenic codY-null mutant of SM101 showed decreased levels of spore formation, along with lower levels of CPE production. A complemented strain recovered wild-type levels of both sporulation and CPE production. When this result was coupled with the earlier results obtained with CN3718, it became apparent that CodY regulation of sporulation varies among different C. perfringens strains. Results from quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR analysis clearly demonstrated that, during sporulation, codY transcript levels remained high in SM101 but rapidly declined in CN3718. In addition, abrB gene expression patterns varied significantly between codY-null mutants of SM101 and CN3718. Compared to the levels in their wild-type parents, the level of abrB gene expression decreased in the CN3718 codY-null mutant strain but significantly increased in the SM101 codY-null mutant strain, demonstrating CodY-dependent regulation differences in abrB expression between these two strains. This difference appears to be important since overexpression of the abrB gene in SM101 reduced the levels of sporulation and enterotoxin production, supporting the involvement of AbrB repression in regulating C. perfringens sporulation.
Project description:Clostridium perfringens type C strains are the only non-type-A isolates that cause human disease. They are responsible for enteritis necroticans, which was termed Darmbrand when occurring in post-World War II Germany. Darmbrand strains were initially classified as type F because of their exceptional heat resistance but later identified as type C strains. Since only limited information exists regarding Darmbrand strains, this study genetically and phenotypically characterized seven 1940s era Darmbrand-associated strains. Results obtained indicated the following. (i) Five of these Darmbrand isolates belong to type C, carry beta-toxin (cpb) and enterotoxin (cpe) genes on large plasmids, and express both beta-toxin and enterotoxin. The other two isolates are cpe-negative type A. (ii) All seven isolates produce highly heat-resistant spores with D(100) values (the time that a culture must be kept at 100°C to reduce its viability by 90%) of 7 to 40 min. (iii) All of the isolates surveyed produce the same variant small acid-soluble protein 4 (Ssp4) made by type A food poisoning isolates with a chromosomal cpe gene that also produce extremely heat-resistant spores. (iv) The Darmbrand isolates share a genetic background with type A chromosomal-cpe-bearing isolates. Finally, it was shown that both the cpe and cpb genes can be mobilized in Darmbrand isolates. These results suggest that C. perfringens type A and C strains that cause human food-borne illness share a spore heat resistance mechanism that likely favors their survival in temperature-abused food. They also suggest possible evolutionary relationships between Darmbrand strains and type A strains carrying a chromosomal cpe gene.
Project description:Enterotoxin-producing C. perfringens type A is a common cause of food poisonings. The cpe encoding the enterotoxin can be chromosomal (genotype IS1470) or plasmid-borne (genotypes IS1470-like-cpe or IS1151-cpe). The chromosomal cpe-carrying C. perfringens are a more common cause of food poisonings than plasmid-borne cpe-genotypes. The chromosomal cpe-carrying C. perfringens type A strains are generally more resistant to most food-processing conditions than plasmid-borne cpe-carrying strains. On the other hand, the plasmid-borne cpe-positive genotypes are more commonly found in human feces than chromosomal cpe-positive genotypes, and humans seem to be a reservoir for plasmid-borne cpe-carrying strains. Thus, it is possible that the epidemiology of C. perfringes type A food poisonings caused by plasmid-borne and chromosomal cpe-carrying strains is different. A DNA microarray was designed for analysis of genetic relatedness between the different cpe-positive and cpe-negative genotypes of C. perfringens strains isolated from human, animal, environmental and food samples. The DNA microarray contained two probes for all protein-coding sequences in the three genome-sequenced strains (C. perfringens type A strains 13, ATCC13124, and SM101). The chromosomal and plasmid-borne C. perfringens genotypes were grouped into two distinct clusters, one consisting of the chromosomal cpe-genotypes and the other consisting of plasmid-borne cpe-genotypes. Analysis of the variable gene pool complemented with the growth studies demonstrate different carbohydrate and amine metabolism in the chromosomal and plasmid-borne cpe-carrying strains, suggesting different epidemiology of the cpe-positive C. perfringens strain groups. Array CGH. Two-color hybridizations on 8x15K Agilent arrays. Eight reference strain hybridizations. Normalization was based on log-ratios against the reference strain. For each sample, 8 normalization factors were calculated, one against each reference hybridization, and the median normalization factor was used. This was repeated for each sample hybridization separately.
Project description:Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin (CPE) is a major virulence factor for human gastrointestinal diseases, such as food poisoning and antibiotic associated diarrhea. The CPE-encoding gene (cpe) can be chromosomal or plasmid-borne. Recent development of conventional PCR cpe-genotyping assays makes it possible to identify cpe location (chromosomal or plasmid) in type A isolates. Initial studies for developing cpe genotyping assays indicated that all cpe-positive strains isolated from sickened patients were typable by cpe-genotypes, but surveys of C. perfringens environmental strains or strains from feces of healthy people suggested that this assay might not be useful for some cpe-carrying type A isolates. In the current study, a pulsed-field gel electrophoresis Southern blot assay showed that four cpe-genotype untypable isolates carried their cpe gene on a plasmid of ?65 kb. Complete sequence analysis of the ?65 kb variant cpe-carrying plasmid revealed no intact IS elements and a disrupted cytosine methyltransferase (dcm) gene. More importantly, this plasmid contains a conjugative transfer region, a variant cpe gene and variant iota toxin genes. The toxin genes encoded by this plasmid are expressed based upon the results of RT-PCR assays. The ?65 kb plasmid is closely related to the pCPF4969 cpe plasmid of type A isolates. MLST analyses indicated these isolates belong to a unique cluster of C. perfringens. Overall, these isolates carrying a variant functional cpe gene and iota toxin genes represent unique type E strains.