NetB and necrotic enteritis: The hole movable story

Julian I. Rood, Anthony L. Keyburn, Robert J. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Clostridium perfringens is the primary causative agent of avian necrotic enteritis. Our understanding of the pathogenesis of this economically important disease has been enhanced by the discovery of C. perfringens NetB toxin, which belongs to the α-haemolysin family of β-pore-forming toxins. In a chicken disease model, the analysis of an isogenic set of strains comprising the wild type, a netB mutant, and its complemented derivative, fulfilled molecular Koch’s postulates and revealed that NetB was essential for disease. These results were consistent with epidemiological surveys, which generally found that there was a higher prevalence of netB carriage in C. perfringens isolates from diseased poultry compared to healthy birds. The netB gene has been shown to be located on large conjugative plasmids that are closely related to other toxin plasmids from C. perfringens, which has potential implications for the epidemiology of necrotic enteritis infections. The crystal structures of both monomeric NetB and the heptameric NetB pore have been determined, the latter revealed a central pore diameter of approximately 26 Å. Finally, it has been shown that vaccine preparations that include NetB can protect chickens against disease and a series of single amino acid substitution derivatives of NetB that have potential value for vaccine formulations have been isolated and analysed. It is likely that NetB will be an important antigen to include in an effective, commercially viable, necrotic enteritis vaccine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-301
Number of pages7
JournalAvian Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2016


  • clostridium perfringens
  • necrotic enteritis
  • NetB toxin
  • vaccine
  • conjugative plasmid

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