Virulence Plasmids of the Pathogenic Clostridia

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The clostridia cause a spectrum of diseases in humans and animals ranging from life-threatening tetanus and botulism, uterine infections, histotoxic infections and enteric diseases, including antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and food poisoning. The symptoms of all these diseases are the result of potent protein toxins produced by these organisms. These toxins are diverse, ranging from a multitude of pore-forming toxins to phospholipases, metalloproteases, ADP-ribosyltransferases and large glycosyltransferases. The location of the toxin genes is the unifying theme of this review because with one or two exceptions they are all located on plasmids or on bacteriophage that replicate using a plasmid-like intermediate. Some of these plasmids are distantly related whilst others share little or no similarity. Many of these toxin plasmids have been shown to be conjugative. The mobile nature of these toxin genes gives a ready explanation of how clostridial toxin genes have been so widely disseminated both within the clostridial genera as well as in the wider bacterial community.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberGPP3-0034-2018
Number of pages28
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2019

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