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Surface morphology differences in Clostridium difficile spores, based on different strains and methods of purification

Malyshev, Dmitry and Baillie, Les 2019. Surface morphology differences in Clostridium difficile spores, based on different strains and methods of purification. Anaerobe 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2019.102078
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Abstract

Infections linked to Clostridium difficile are a significant cause of suffering. In hospitals, the organism is primarily acquired through the faecal-oral route as spores excreted by infected patients contaminate the healthcare environment. We previously reported that members of the C. difficile group varied widely in their ability to adhere to stainless steel and proposed that these differences were a consequence of variations in spore architecture. In this study of clinical isolates and spore coat protein mutants of C. difficile we identified three distinct spore surfaces morphotypes; smooth, bag-like and "pineapple-like" using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The frequency of each morphotype in a spore population derived from a single isolate varied depending on the host strain and the method used to produce and purify the spores. Our results suggest that the inclusion of a sonication step in the purification process had a marked effect on spore structure. In an attempt to link differences in spore appearance with key structural spore proteins we compared the morphology of spores of CD630 to those produced by CD630 variants lacking either CotE or BclA. While SEM images revealed no obvious structural differences between CD630 and its mutants we did observe significant differences (p < 0.001) in relative hydrophobicity suggesting that modifications had occurred but not at a level to be detectable by SEM. In conclusion, we observed significant variation in the spore morphology of clinical isolates of C. difficile due in part to the methods used to produce them. Sonication in particular can markedly change spore appearance and properties. The results of this study highlight the importance of adopting "standard" methods when attempting to compare results between studies and to understand the significance of their differences.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Pharmacy
Publisher: Elsevier
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 October 2019
Date of Acceptance: 19 July 2019
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2019 10:19
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/126361

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