Clostridium difficile is the cause of antibiotics-associated diarrhea and pseudomembranous colitis. The pathogen produces three protein toxins: C. difficile toxins A (TcdA) and B (TcdB), and C. difficile transferase toxin (CDT). The single-chain toxins TcdA and TcdB are the main virulence factors. They bind to cell membrane receptors and are internalized. The N-terminal glucosyltransferase and autoprotease domains of the toxins translocate from low-pH endosomes into the cytosol. After activation by inositol hexakisphosphate (InsP6), the autoprotease cleaves and releases the glucosyltransferase domain into the cytosol, where GTP-binding proteins of the Rho/Ras family are mono-O-glucosylated and, thereby, inactivated. Inactivation of Rho proteins disturbs the organization of the cytoskeleton and affects multiple Rho-dependent cellular processes, including loss of epithelial barrier functions, induction of apoptosis, and inflammation. CDT, the third C. difficile toxin, is a binary actin-ADP-ribosylating toxin that causes depolymerization of actin, thereby inducing formation of the microtubule-based protrusions. Recent progress in understanding of the toxins' actions include insights into the toxin structures, their interaction with host cells, and functional consequences of their actions.
Keywords: ADP ribosylation; CDT; Clostridium difficile infection; Clostridium difficile toxins; Clostridium difficile transferase toxin; Rho proteins; actin; glucosylation; microtubules; toxin receptors; toxin uptake.