Clostridium difficile Responds to Antimicrobial Peptides and Oxidative Stress
reactive oxygen species
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease December 9, 2016
AbstractClostridium difficile (CD) is the leading cause of bacterial hospital-associated infection in North America. How CD colonizes the human host, including its response to the innate immune system and other stresses, is poorly understood. This work considers CD's defenses against two stresses found in the host - the antimicrobial peptide LL-37 and reactive oxygen species (ROS). LL-37 had bactericidal activity against CD. CD strains varied in their sensitivity to the peptide, and epidemic-associated strains were more resistant to LL-37 than others. CD became more resistant to LL-37 following exposure to sub-lethal concentrations of the peptide, suggesting the presence of inducible resistance mechanisms. A quantitative proteomics analysis revealed definite alterations in CD protein expression caused by LL-37. Specific changes included increased expression of DltB, a protein previously reported to confer resistance against other antimicrobial peptides. Notably, disruption of individual LL-37-induced genes did not sensitize CD to the peptide. This suggests functional redundancy, and that LL-37 may cause global changes in protein expression, not limited to antimicrobial peptide resistance determinants. One of the proteins most strongly induced by LL-37 was a predicted superoxide reductase (SOR). As CD is considered a strict anaerobe, expression of a predicted antioxidant protein was an interesting finding. Heterologous expression of CD SOR in a superoxide dismutase-deficient E. coli strain confirmed its action as a superoxide scavenger. Insertional inactivation of SOR rendered CD more sensitive to oxygen and ROS-generating compounds, indicating that SOR contributes to antioxidant defense in CD. SOR mutants were impaired in their ability to cause disease in hamsters, indicating a role for this protein in infection.
Degree ProgramGraduate College