Detection of differences in the nucleotide and amino acid sequences of diphtheria toxin from Corynebacterium diphtheriae and Corynebacterium ulcerans causing extrapharyngeal infections.
ABSTRACT: While Corynebacterium ulcerans can mimic classical diphtheria, extrapharyngeal infections are extremely rare. Sequencing of the diphtheria toxin (DT)-encoding tox gene of two C. ulcerans isolates from extrapharyngeal infections revealed differences from C. diphtheriae DT sequences, mainly in the translocation and receptor-binding domains. C. ulcerans supernatants were much less potent than supernatant from C. diphtheriae. A C. ulcerans DT-specific PCR is described below.
Project description:The systemic symptoms of diphtheria are caused by the tox-encoded diphtheria toxin (DT) which is produced by toxigenic Corynebacterium spp. Besides the classical agent C. diphtheriae, the zoonotic pathogen C. ulcerans has increasingly been reported as an emerging pathogen for diphtheria. The reliable detection of toxigenic Corynebacterium spp. is of substantial importance for both diphtheria surveillance in the public health sector and the clinical workup of a patient with diphtherialike symptoms. Since the respective tox genes of C. diphtheriae and C. ulcerans differ from each other in both DNA and amino acid sequence, both tox genes should be covered by novel real-time PCR methods. We describe the development and validation of a LightCycler PCR assay which reliably recognizes tox genes from both C. diphtheriae and C. ulcerans and differentiates the respective target genes by fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) hybridization probe melting curve analysis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Corynebacterium ulcerans can cause a diphtheria-like illness, especially when the bacterium is lysogenized with a tox gene-carrying bacteriophage that produces diphtheria toxin. Acquisition of toxigenicity upon phage lysogenization is a common feature of C. ulcerans and C. diphtheriae. However, because of a lack of C. ulcerans genome information, a detailed comparison of prophages has not been possible between these two clinically important and closely related bacterial species. RESULTS: We determined the whole genome sequence of the toxigenic C. ulcerans 0102 isolated in Japan. The genomic sequence showed a striking similarity with that of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis and, to a lesser extent, with that of C. diphtheriae. The 0102 genome contained three distinct prophages. One of these, ΦCULC0102-I, was a tox-positive prophage containing genes in the same structural order as for tox-positive C. diphtheriae prophages. However, the primary structures of the individual genes involved in the phage machinery showed little homology between the two counterparts. CONCLUSION: Taken together, these results suggest that the tox-positive prophage in this strain of C. ulcerans has a distinct origin from that of C. diphtheriae NCTC 13129.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Diphtheria toxin (DT) is produced by toxigenic strains of the human pathogen Corynebacterium diphtheriae as well as zoonotic C. ulcerans and C. pseudotuberculosis. Toxigenic strains may cause severe respiratory diphtheria, myocarditis, neurological damage or cutaneous diphtheria. The DT encoding tox gene is located in a mobile genomic region and tox variability between C. diphtheriae and C. ulcerans has been postulated based on sequences of a few isolates. In contrast, species-specific sequence analysis of the diphtheria toxin repressor gene (dtxR), occurring both in toxigenic and non-toxigenic Corynebacterium species, has not been done yet. We used whole genome sequencing data from 91 toxigenic and 46 non-toxigenic isolates of different pathogenic Corynebacterium species of animal or human origin to elucidate differences in extracted DT, DtxR and tox-surrounding genetic elements by a phylogenetic analysis in a large sample set. RESULTS:Sequences of both DT and DtxR, extracted from whole genome sequencing data, could be classified in four distinct, nearly species-specific clades, corresponding to C. diphtheriae, C. pseudotuberculosis, C. ulcerans and atypical C. ulcerans from a non-toxigenic toxin gene-bearing wildlife cluster. Average amino acid similarities were above 99% for DT and DtxR within the four groups, but lower between them. For DT, subgroups below species level could be identified, correlating with different tox-comprising mobile genetic elements. In most C. diphtheriae, tox genes were located within known prophages. In contrast, in C. ulcerans diverse tox-including mobile elements could be identified: either prophages differing from C. diphtheriae prophages or an alternative pathogenicity island (PAI) described previously. One isolate showed a different, shorter tox-comprising putative PAI. Beyond the tox-overlapping elements, most isolates harbored a variety of additional prophages. CONCLUSION:Our NGS data from 137 isolates indicate the existence of different genetic backgrounds of DT-mediated pathogenicity in different Corynebacterium species and evolution of once acquired pathogenicity features with the strains. Different groups of pathogenicity-related elements within C. ulcerans imply that tox transmission pathways between isolates may differ in the zoonotic species and contribute to their emerging pathogenic potential.
Project description:Diphtheria surveillance depends on the rapid and reliable recognition of the toxin gene in Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Real-time PCR is a rapid tool to confirm the presence of the diphtheria toxin gene (tox) in an isolate or specimen. We report that some toxigenic Corynebacterium ulcerans strains show atypical results in a real-time PCR for tox.
Project description:Although the structural gene for diphtheria toxin, tox, is carried by a family of closely related corynebacteriophages, the regulation of tox expression is controlled, to a large extent, by its bacterial host Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Optimal yields of tox gene products are obtained only when iron becomes the growth-rate-limiting substrate. Previous studies suggest that regulation of tox expression is mediated through an iron-binding aporepressor. To facilitate molecular cloning of the tox regulatory element from genomic libraries of C. diphtheriae, we constructed a tox promoter/operator (toxPO)-lacZ transcriptional fusion in Escherichia coli strain DH5 alpha. We report the molecular cloning and nucleic acid sequence of a diphtheria tox iron-dependent regulatory element, dtxR, and demonstrate that expression of beta-galactosidase from the toxPO-lacZ fusion is regulated by dtxR-encoded protein in an iron-sensitive manner. In addition, we show that expression of the toxPO-lacZ fusion is not affected by the E. coli iron-regulatory protein Fur and that the dtxR protein does not inhibit expression of fur-regulated outer-membrane proteins.
Project description:Corynebacterium diphtheriae is one of the most prominent human pathogens and the causative agent of the communicable disease diphtheria. The genomes of 12 strains isolated from patients with classical diphtheria, endocarditis, and pneumonia were completely sequenced and annotated. Including the genome of C. diphtheriae NCTC 13129, we herewith present a comprehensive comparative analysis of 13 strains and the first characterization of the pangenome of the species C. diphtheriae. Comparative genomics showed extensive synteny and revealed a core genome consisting of 1,632 conserved genes. The pangenome currently comprises 4,786 protein-coding regions and increases at an average of 65 unique genes per newly sequenced strain. Analysis of prophages carrying the diphtheria toxin gene tox revealed that the toxoid vaccine producer C. diphtheriae Park-Williams no. 8 has been lysogenized by two copies of the ω(tox)(+) phage, whereas C. diphtheriae 31A harbors a hitherto-unknown tox(+) corynephage. DNA binding sites of the tox-controlling regulator DtxR were detected by genome-wide motif searches. Comparative content analysis showed that the DtxR regulons exhibit marked differences due to gene gain, gene loss, partial gene deletion, and DtxR binding site depletion. Most predicted pathogenicity islands of C. diphtheriae revealed characteristics of horizontal gene transfer. The majority of these islands encode subunits of adhesive pili, which can play important roles in adhesion of C. diphtheriae to different host tissues. All sequenced isolates contain at least two pilus gene clusters. It appears that variation in the distributed genome is a common strategy of C. diphtheriae to establish differences in host-pathogen interactions.
Project description:By conducting a molecular characterization of Corynebacterium diphtheriae strains in Australia, we identified novel sequences, nonfunctional toxin genes, and 5 recent cases of toxigenic cutaneous diphtheria. These findings highlight the importance of extrapharyngeal infections for toxin gene-bearing (functional or not) and non-toxin gene-bearing C. diphtheriae strains. Continued surveillance is recommended.
Project description:Corynebacterium diphtheriae and Corynebacterium ulcerans are rarely isolated from clinical samples in Belgium. A case of toxigenic C. ulcerans in a woman is described, which confirms that this pathogen is still present. During investigation of the patient's cats, only a non-toxigenic toxin-bearing C. diphtheriae strain was detected.
Project description:Toxigenic Corynebacterium ulcerans may cause both respiratory and cutaneous diphtheria in humans. As a zoonotic emerging pathogen it has been isolated from a wide variety of animals living in captivity, such as livestock, pet, zoo and research animals and additionally in a large number of different wild animals. Here we report the isolation of tox-positive C. ulcerans in four hedgehogs with cutaneous diphtheria and pneumonia, respectively.
Project description:Human-to-human-transmitted Corynebacterium diphtheriae was historically the main pathogen causing diphtheria and has therefore been studied extensively in the past. More recently, diphtheria caused by toxigenic Corynebacterium ulcerans is an emerging disease in several industrial countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, France, and Germany. However, toxigenic C. ulcerans has so far been almost neglected in the development of epidemiologic tools. One of the most important tools in modern epidemiology to understand transmission pathways is sequence typing of pathogens. Here, we provide a protocol for multilocus sequence typing (MLST) to type C. ulcerans strains rapidly and relatively cost-effectively. Applying MLST to C. ulcerans for the first time, we show that related sequence types (STs) might be associated with the presence of the diphtheria toxin gene, which encodes diphtheria toxin (DT), the most important diphtheria-causing virulence factor. Interestingly, we found only two very closely related STs in the isolates derived from six dogs. Additionally, our data show that all STs derived from animals which were at least twice present in our analysis were found in humans as well. This finding is congruent with zoonotic transmission of C. ulcerans.