Phospholipase C and haemolytic activities of Clostridium perfringens alpha‐toxin cloned in Escherichia coli: sequence and homology with a Baciilus cereus phospholipase C

D. Leslie, N. Fairweather, D. Pickard, G. Dougan, M. Kehoe

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The Clostridium perfringens alpha‐toxin (phospholipase C) gene cpa has been cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The biological activities of the cloned gene product have been analysed and the complete nucleotide sequence of the cpa gene has been determined. The cloned cpa gene product, which is exported to the periplasm in E. coli, possesses both phospholipase C and haemolytic activities. Haemolysis is not apparent when cell extracts are incubated with isotonic suspensions of sheep erythrocytes, but can be detected and quantified readily when dilutions of the same extracts are placed in wells in sheep‐blood agar plates. Like other sequenced clostridial genes, the cpa gene has a high AT content (66.4%), exhibits a strong bias for using codons with A or T in the wobble position, and the 350 base pairs upstream from the gene have a significantly higher AT content (79.5%) than the coding region. The cpa gene encodes a 398 amino acid polypeptide with a deduced molecular weight of 45481D. This is very similar to the estimated molecular weight (Mr) of the cpa primary gene product expressed in an in vitro transcription‐translation system (Mr 46000), but larger than the cpa gene product detected in E. coli minicells, E. coli whole cells or in C. perfringens cells (Mr 43000), suggesting post‐translational processing. The 28 N‐terminal residues of the deduced alpha‐toxin sequence possess the consensus features of a signal peptide and may be removed during secretion. The deduced alpha‐toxin sequence shares significant structural homology with the phosphatidylcholine‐preferring phospholipase C of Bacillus cereus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-392
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1989
Externally publishedYes

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