2008 - 2010
Investigation into cell-cell signaling in Clostridium perfringens infection for developing a novel disease-control strategy
Principal Investigator: Joshua Gong, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Collaborators: Mansel Griffiths and John Prescott, University of Guelph
BackgroundClostridium perfringens causes necrotic enteritis (NE), a common enteric disease of birds. NE occurs when C. perfringens overgrows and dominates the flora in the intestine and produces a high level of α-toxin. This toxin was considered to be a major virulence determinant associated with the disease, however this theory was recently called into question. NE in poultry is currently controlled by prophylactic use of antibiotics in feed. The continued emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens in both humans and food animals, however, represents a potentially severe negative impact of this common practice. The increasing public anxiety has spurred research into non-antibiotic alternatives for controlling the disease. One of the recent significant discoveries in microbiology is bacterial communication and its mechanism through cell-cell signalling (quorum sensing). Quorum sensing has a role in the regulation of a wide variety of physiological processes, especially the production of virulence factors which are important during pathogen bacterium-host interactions. In C. perfringens, for example, quorum sensing is involved in regulating production of several toxins, including α-toxin. This information came from studies on a human isolate of C. perfringens. Dr. Gong and his team will be looking at C. perfringens in the chicken in an attempt to answer the following questions: 1) Does the quorum sensing occur in the chicken intestine? 2) How much is it involved in the toxin production by C. perfringens and NE development in the intestine? 3) Can an effective strategy be developed to control NE by blocking the signalling (so-called quorum quenching)?
Funding$62,500 (CPRC $30,000, AAFC $31,500)