Clostridium difficile is considered to be one of the most important causes of health care-associated infections worldwide. In order to understand more fully the adaptive response of the organism to stressful conditions, we examined transcriptional changes resulting from a clinically relevant heat stress (41°C versus 37°C) in C. difficile strain 630 and identified 341 differentially expressed genes encompassing multiple cellular functional categories. While the transcriptome was relatively resilient to the applied heat stress, we noted upregulation of classical heat shock genes including the groEL and dnaK operons in addition to other stress-responsive genes. Interestingly, the flagellin gene (fliC) was downregulated, yet genes encoding the cell-wall associated flagellar components were upregulated suggesting that while motility may be reduced, adherence - to mucus or epithelial cells - could be enhanced during infection. We also observed that a number of phage associated genes were downregulated, as were genes associated with the conjugative transposon Tn5397 including a group II intron, thus highlighting a potential decrease in retromobility during heat stress. These data suggest that maintenance of lysogeny and genome wide stabilisation of mobile elements could be a global response to heat stress in this pathogen.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)