The EngCP endo α-N-acetylgalactosaminidase is a virulence factor involved in Clostridium perfringens gas gangrene infections

Jackie K. Cheung, Vicki Adams, Danielle D'Souza, Meagan James, Christopher J. Day, Michael P. Jennings, Dena Lyras, Julian I. Rood

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Clostridium perfringens is the causative agent of human clostridial myonecrosis; the major toxins involved in this disease are α-toxin and perfringolysin O. The RevSR two-component regulatory system has been shown to be involved in regulating virulence in a mouse myonecrosis model. Previous microarray and RNAseq analysis of a revR mutant implied that factors other than the major toxins may play a role in virulence. The RNAseq data showed that the expression of the gene encoding the EngCP endo α-N-acetylgalactosaminidase (CPE0693) was significantly down-regulated in a revR mutant. Enzymes from this family have been identified in several Gram-positive pathogens and have been postulated to contribute to their virulence. In this study, we constructed an engCP mutant of C. perfringens and showed that it was significantly less virulent than its wild-type parent strain. Virulence was restored by complementation in trans with the wild-type engCP gene. We also demonstrated that purified EngCP was able to hydrolyse α-dystroglycan derived from C2C12 mouse myotubes. However, EngCP had little effect on membrane permeability in mice, suggesting that EngCP may play a role other than the disruption of the structural integrity of myofibres. Glycan array analysis indicated that EngCP could recognise structures containing the monosaccharide N-acetlygalactosamine at 4C, but could recognise structures terminating in galactose, glucose and N-acetylglucosamine under conditions where EngCP was enzymatically active. In conclusion, we have obtained evidence that EngCP is required for virulence in C. perfringens and, although classical exotoxins are important for disease, we have now shown that an O-glycosidase also plays an important role in the disease process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number151398
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Endo α-N-acetylgalactosaminidase
  • EngCP
  • Myonecrosis
  • O-glycosidase
  • Virulence

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