Development of a non-radiolabeled glucosyltransferase activity assay for C. difficile toxin A and B using ultra performance liquid chromatography

J Chromatogr A. 2017 May 19;1498:169-175. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2017.01.083. Epub 2017 Jan 31.


Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is the leading cause of gastroenteritis-associated death in the United States. The major virulent factors of C. difficile are toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB). Toxicity is mediated by the glucosyltransferase domains on TcdA and TcdB wherein a glucose is transferred from UDP-glucose to Ras homolog family member A (RhoA) receptor. This modification results in disruption of critical cell signaling events. Vaccination against these toxins is considered the best way to combat the CDI. In order to produce non-toxic TcdA and TcdB antigens, their glucosyltransferase domains were genetically mutated to inactivate the toxin activity. We have developed a reverse phase ultra performance liquid chromatographic (RP-UPLC) method to measure this glucosyltransferase activity by separating RhoA and glucosylated RhoA. Glucosylated RhoA and RhoA have a retention time (RT) of 31.25 and 31.95min. We determine for the first time the glucosyltransferase kinetics (Km and kcat) of both full length TcdA and TcdB to RhoA and demonstrate that the genetically mutated TcdA and TcdB show no glucosyltransferase activity. Furthermore, two-dimensional electron microscopy (2D EM) data demonstrates that the overall global structures of mutated toxins do not change compared to native toxins.

Keywords: C. difficile; Glucosyltranferase; Non-radioactive; TcdA; TcdB; UHPLC.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid*
  • Clostridium difficile / metabolism*
  • Enterotoxins / metabolism*
  • Glucosyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Uridine Diphosphate Glucose / metabolism
  • rhoA GTP-Binding Protein / analysis*
  • rhoA GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • tcdA protein, Clostridium difficile
  • toxB protein, Clostridium difficile
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • rhoA GTP-Binding Protein
  • Uridine Diphosphate Glucose