Effect of phage infection on toxin production by Clostridium difficile

J Med Microbiol. 2005 Feb;54(Pt 2):129-135. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.45821-0.


Infection with Clostridium difficile and subsequent production of toxins A and B may result in C. difficile-associated diarrhoea and pseudomembranous colitis in hospital patients. The effect of four temperate phages, obtained by induction of clinical C. difficile isolates, on toxin production by C. difficile was determined. None of these phages converted a lysogenized non-toxigenic C. difficile strain to toxin production. One of the accessory toxin genes, tcdE, was detected in three phages, phiC2, phiC6 and phiC8; however, the non-repeating regions of tcdA and tcdB encoding the enzymic domains were not carried on phage DNA. Phage infection of toxigenic strains increased toxin B production in four of six lysogens, although the level of tcdB transcription as determined by real-time RT-PCR was not significantly altered. However, levels of toxin A transcription in two lysogens were significantly altered without any corresponding differences in toxin A production.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Toxins / genetics
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism*
  • Bacteriophages / classification
  • Bacteriophages / physiology*
  • Clostridium difficile / genetics
  • Clostridium difficile / metabolism*
  • Clostridium difficile / virology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Enterotoxins / biosynthesis
  • Enterotoxins / genetics
  • Enterotoxins / metabolism*
  • Genome, Viral
  • Lysogeny
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Enterotoxins
  • tcdA protein, Clostridium difficile
  • toxB protein, Clostridium difficile