Nectin-3 and shed forms of CSPG4 can serve as epithelial cell receptors for Clostridioides difficile TcdB

mBio. 2023 Oct 31;14(5):e0185723. doi: 10.1128/mbio.01857-23. Epub 2023 Sep 25.


Toxin B (TcdB) is a major virulence factor of Clostridioides difficile, a Gram-positive pathogen that is a leading cause of hospital-acquired diarrhea. While previous studies have established that TcdB can engage multiple cell surface receptors in vitro, little is known about how these interactions promote disease and where these receptors localize on colonic tissue. Here, we used immunofluorescence microscopy to visualize Nectin-3 and CSPG4 on tissue, revealing unexpected localization of both receptors on colonic epithelial cells. We show that Nectin-3, which was previously characterized as an adherens junction protein, is also localized to the brush border of colonocytes. Staining for CSPG4 revealed that it is present along epithelial cell junctions, suggesting that it is shed by fibroblasts along the crypt-surface axis. Collectively, our study provides new insights into how TcdB can gain access to the receptors Nectin-3 and CSPG4 to intoxicate colonic epithelial cells.

Keywords: Clostridium difficile; polarized epithelia; toxin-receptor interaction.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Toxins* / metabolism
  • Clostridioides difficile*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Nectins / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Nectins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Bacterial Proteins