Variations in lethal toxin and cholesterol-dependent cytolysin production correspond to differences in cytotoxicity among strains of Clostridium sordellii

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2006 Jun;259(2):295-302. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2006.00287.x.


Clostridium sordellii is an emerging human pathogen and frequent contaminant of cadaver-derived tissue transplant material. Herein, we provide data suggesting the potential for severe C. sordellii-associated disease may be dictated by whether the specific strain produces lethal toxin (TcsL) or sordellilysin (SDL), a cholesterol-dependent cytolysin. The virulence factor profiles of 14 C. sordellii isolates were determined, and culture supernatant from six of the isolates was found to be cytotoxic to mammalian cells; yet, only one of these strains conferred cytotoxicity via production of TcsL. Cytotoxicity of TcsL- strains correlated with the production of sordellilysin, which was also recognized by an antiperfringolysin O antibody. However, supernatant from TcsL+, SDL- strains demonstrated a lower LD50 relative to TcsL-, SDL+ strains, suggesting the potential for severe C. sordellii-associated disease may be determined by the particular strain colonizing the host.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Toxins / biosynthesis*
  • Bacterial Toxins / genetics
  • Bacterial Toxins / toxicity
  • Base Sequence
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Line
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Clostridium sordellii / classification
  • Clostridium sordellii / genetics
  • Clostridium sordellii / metabolism*
  • Clostridium sordellii / pathogenicity*
  • Cricetinae
  • Cytotoxins / biosynthesis*
  • Cytotoxins / genetics
  • Cytotoxins / toxicity
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Female
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genotype
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Phenotype
  • Species Specificity
  • Virulence


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Cytotoxins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • lethal toxin LT, Clostridium sordellii
  • toxin L, Clostridium sordellii
  • Cholesterol