Cwp22, a Novel Peptidoglycan Cross-linking Enzyme, Plays Pleiotropic Roles in Clostridioides Difficile

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Clostridioides difficile is a Gram-positive, spore-forming, toxin-producing anaerobe pathogen, and can induce nosocomial antibiotic-associated intestinal disease. While production of toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB) contribute to the main pathogenesis of C. difficile, adhesion and colonization of C. difficile in the host gut are prerequisites for disease onset. Previous cell wall proteins (CWPs) were identified that were implicated in C. difficile adhesion and colonization. In this study, we predicted and characterized Cwp22 (CDR20291_2601) from C. difficile R20291 to be involved in bacterial adhesion based on the Vaxign reverse vaccinology tool. The ClosTron-generated cwp22 mutant showed decreased TcdA and TcdB production during early growth, and increased cell permeability and autolysis. Importantly, the cwp22 mutation impaired cellular adherence in vitro and decreased cytotoxicity and fitness over the parent strain in a mouse infection model. Furthermore, lactate dehydrogenase cytotoxicity assay, live-dead cell staining and transmission electron microscopy confirmed the decreased cell viability of the cwp22 mutant. Thus, Cwp22 is involved in cell wall integrity and cell viability, which could affect most phenotypes of R20291. Our data suggest that Cwp22 is an attractive target for C. difficile infection therapeutics and prophylactics.

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Environmental Microbiology, v. 21, issue 8, p. 3076-3090