Antibody-enhanced, Fc gamma receptor-mediated endocytosis of Clostridium difficile toxin A

Infect Immun. 2009 Jun;77(6):2294-303. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01577-08. Epub 2009 Mar 23.


Toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB) are major virulence factors of Clostridium difficile. These two toxins intoxicate cultured cells by similar mechanisms, and TcdB generally is more potent than TcdA in cultured cells. The exact reason for this difference is unclear. Here, we report that the cellular effects of TcdA can be substantially enhanced via an opsonizing antibody through Fc gamma receptor I (FcgammaRI)-mediated endocytosis. A TcdA-specific monoclonal antibody, A1H3, was found to significantly enhance the cytotoxicity of TcdA to macrophages and monocytes. The A1H3-dependent enhancement of glucosyltransferase activity, cytoskeleton disruption, and tumor necrosis factor alpha production induced by TcdA was further demonstrated using RAW 264.7 cells. Subsequent experiments indicated that the interaction of FcgammaRI with A1H3 underlays the antibody-dependent enhancement of the cellular effects of TcdA. While blocking FcgammaRII and FcgammaRIII with anti-CD16/32 antibodies did not affect the TcdA-mediated glucosylation of Rac1 in RAW 264.7 cells, presaturation of FcgammaRI with anti-CD64 antibodies in THP1 cells significantly reduced this activity. Incubation of a TcdA-A1H3 immune complex with recombinant mouse CD64 completely abrogated the A1H3-mediated enhancement of the glucosyltransferase activity of TcdA in RAW 264.7 cells. Moreover, expression of FcgammaRI in CHO cells strikingly enhanced the sensitivity of these cells to TcdA complexed with A1H3. We showed that the presence of A1H3 facilitated cell surface recruitment of TcdA, contributing to the antibody-dependent, FcgammaRI-mediated enhancement of TcdA activity. Finally, studies using chlorpromazine and endosomal acidification inhibitors revealed an important role of the endocytic pathway in the A1H3-dependent enhancement of TcdA activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Bacterial Toxins / immunology*
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Clostridioides difficile / immunology*
  • Endocytosis*
  • Enterotoxins / immunology*
  • Enterotoxins / metabolism*
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Receptors, IgG / immunology*
  • Receptors, IgG / metabolism*
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Rac1 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, IgG
  • tcdA protein, Clostridium difficile
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein