Chapter 27 : Virulence Plasmids of Spore-Forming Bacteria

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Spore-forming bacteria cause some of the most significant diseases of both humans and animals, including tetanus, botulism, gas gangrene, anthrax, and many different enteric or gastroenteritis syndromes. The pathogenesis of most of these diseases involves the production of potent protein toxins, including tetanus and botulinum toxins, anthrax toxin, and alpha-toxin, epsilon-toxin (ETX), and enterotoxin (CPE) from . The genes for many of these toxins, as well as other virulence factors such as the capsule biosynthesis genes of , are located on plasmids, with examples including the tetanus toxin plasmid, the conjugative toxin plasmids of , and the pXO1 and pXO2 virulence plasmids from ( ). In this chapter we will review our knowledge of these plasmids, the virulence factors that they encode, and their role in disease.

Citation: Adams V, Li J, Wisniewski J, Uzal F, Moore R, McClane B, Rood J. 2015. Virulence Plasmids of Spore-Forming Bacteria, p 533-557. In Tolmasky M, Alonso J (ed), Plasmids: Biology and Impact in Biotechnology and Discovery. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PLAS-0024-2014
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Image of Figure 1
Figure 1

Comparative alignment of plasmids. Open reading frames (ORFs) are indicated by arrows as follows: red, the locus; dark blue, other shared ORFs; light purple, tetracycline resistance genes; green, the toxin gene; purple, the toxin gene; pink, the gene; gray, the gene; dark gray, the iota-toxin gene; yellow, plasmid replication region; light blue, regions unique to each plasmid. Asterisks denote a toxin gene. Reproduced with permission from reference .

Citation: Adams V, Li J, Wisniewski J, Uzal F, Moore R, McClane B, Rood J. 2015. Virulence Plasmids of Spore-Forming Bacteria, p 533-557. In Tolmasky M, Alonso J (ed), Plasmids: Biology and Impact in Biotechnology and Discovery. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PLAS-0024-2014
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Figure 2

Phylogenetic analysis of ParM variants. The phylogenetic tree was constructed using the amino acid sequences of ParM proteins identified using BlastP searches of the nonredundant NCBI protein database. The phylogenetic tree was constructed using the phylogeny analysis software: http://www.phylogeny.fr/version2_cgi/index.cgi ( ). The JGS1495, JGS1987, and ATCC3626 sequences are from genome sequencing projects and yielded multiple ParM homologues from putative plasmid sequences; each ParM homologue was named according to its ParM group.

Citation: Adams V, Li J, Wisniewski J, Uzal F, Moore R, McClane B, Rood J. 2015. Virulence Plasmids of Spore-Forming Bacteria, p 533-557. In Tolmasky M, Alonso J (ed), Plasmids: Biology and Impact in Biotechnology and Discovery. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PLAS-0024-2014
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Figure 3

Plasmid maps of toxin plasmids from spore-forming bacteria. The circular maps of the toxin plasmids, pXO1 (AF065404) and pXO2 (AF188935), the neurotoxin plasmid pE88 (AF528077), and the conjugative group I (pCLJ, CP001081) and group II (pCLL, CP001057) neurotoxin plasmids are shown. Predicted ORFs are depicted as black arrows or bars along the circular maps. Regions of interest are indicated inside the plasmid circles, such as the pathogenicity islands present on pXO1 and pXO2. Genes of interest are indicated on the outside of the plasmid maps. Gene names are italicized, while ORFs with similarity to known proteins (such as IS elements) are not italicized. The two neurotoxin loci encoded on the pCLJ plasmid are enlarged showing an example of an neurotoxin locus ( region, top) and a neurotoxin locus ( region, bottom); see text.

Citation: Adams V, Li J, Wisniewski J, Uzal F, Moore R, McClane B, Rood J. 2015. Virulence Plasmids of Spore-Forming Bacteria, p 533-557. In Tolmasky M, Alonso J (ed), Plasmids: Biology and Impact in Biotechnology and Discovery. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PLAS-0024-2014
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Figure 4

Genetic organization of the gene regions. Organization of plasmid-borne and chromosomal loci from . genes are indicated by red arrows, and genes by purple arrows, and genes by yellow arrows. Related IS elements are indicated by identical colors. Reproduced with permission from reference .

Citation: Adams V, Li J, Wisniewski J, Uzal F, Moore R, McClane B, Rood J. 2015. Virulence Plasmids of Spore-Forming Bacteria, p 533-557. In Tolmasky M, Alonso J (ed), Plasmids: Biology and Impact in Biotechnology and Discovery. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PLAS-0024-2014
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Figure 5

Comparative alignment of loci. The two (yellow arrows) loci from plasmid pCP8533etx and strain CN1675 are compared to the location of the (yellow arrow) gene and surrounding sequences in plasmid pCPF5603. The aligned region begins with the gene (left side) found downstream of the locus in all sequenced plasmids. Genes (or DNA sequences) with greater than 90% nucleotide identity are colored alike (except for the and genes; both are in yellow but are not related). The genes inside the green boxes appear to have been duplicated and flank the locus in plasmid pCP8533etx. Numbers are the CDS designations from the respective sequences: pCPF5603 (accession number: NC_007773), pCP8533etx (accession number: NC_011412), and CN1675 (accession number: EU852100). Arrows without numbers represent pseudogenes.

Citation: Adams V, Li J, Wisniewski J, Uzal F, Moore R, McClane B, Rood J. 2015. Virulence Plasmids of Spore-Forming Bacteria, p 533-557. In Tolmasky M, Alonso J (ed), Plasmids: Biology and Impact in Biotechnology and Discovery. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PLAS-0024-2014
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Figure 6

Genetic conservation of locus. Labeled arrows indicate the locus from pCP8533etx: encoding a putative resolvase, encoding a putative signal peptidase I, the gene, two hypothetical genes (H1 and H2), and a conserved hypothetical (pCW3_08). Below the locus are heavy lines indicating nucleotide sequence homology of 68% (pCP13) or >95% (all others). The gray lines indicate gaps in the sequence alignment where the sequence is absent from that particular plasmid sequence. Whether the gene is present in each plasmid is indicated on the right.

Citation: Adams V, Li J, Wisniewski J, Uzal F, Moore R, McClane B, Rood J. 2015. Virulence Plasmids of Spore-Forming Bacteria, p 533-557. In Tolmasky M, Alonso J (ed), Plasmids: Biology and Impact in Biotechnology and Discovery. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PLAS-0024-2014
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Figure 7

Comparative genetic organization of pXO2, pAW63, and pBT9727. Shared regions are indicated by shaded segments. The pathogenicity island on pXO2 is raised above the map. Reproduced from reference with permission of the authors.

Citation: Adams V, Li J, Wisniewski J, Uzal F, Moore R, McClane B, Rood J. 2015. Virulence Plasmids of Spore-Forming Bacteria, p 533-557. In Tolmasky M, Alonso J (ed), Plasmids: Biology and Impact in Biotechnology and Discovery. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PLAS-0024-2014
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