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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Transcription and analysis of polymorphism in a cluster of genes encoding surface-associated proteins of Clostridium difficile.

Recent investigations of the Clostridium difficile genome have revealed the presence of a cluster of 17 genes, 11 of which encode proteins with similar two-domain structures, likely to be surface-anchored proteins. Two of these genes have been proven to encode proteins involved in cell adherence: slpA encodes the precursor of the two proteins of the S-layer, P36 and P47, whereas cwp66 encodes the Cwp66 adhesin. To gain further insight into the function of this cluster, we further focused on slpA, cwp66, and cwp84, the latter of which encodes a putative surface-associated protein with homology to numerous cysteine proteases. It displayed nonspecific proteolytic activity when expressed as a recombinant protein in Escherichia coli. Polymorphism of cwp66 and cwp84 genes was analyzed in 28 strains, and transcriptional organization of the three genes was explored by Northern blots. The slpA gene is strongly transcribed during the entire growth phase as a bicistronic transcript; cwp66 is transcribed only in the early exponential growth phase as a polycistronic transcript encompassing the two contiguous genes upstream. The putative proteins encoded by the cotranscribed genes have no significant homology with known proteins but may have a role in adherence. No correlation could be established between sequence patterns of Cwp66 and Cwp84 and virulence of the strains. The cwp84 gene is strongly transcribed as a monocistronic message. This feature, together with the highly conserved sequence pattern of cwp84, suggests a significant role in the physiopathology of C. difficile for the Cwp84 protease, potentially in the maturation of surface-associated adhesins encoded by the gene cluster.[1]


  1. Transcription and analysis of polymorphism in a cluster of genes encoding surface-associated proteins of Clostridium difficile. Savariau-Lacomme, M.P., Lebarbier, C., Karjalainen, T., Collignon, A., Janoir, C. J. Bacteriol. (2003) [Pubmed]
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