2014 - 2017

Assessment of Clostridium perfringens pili in vaccine development for controlling necrotic enteritis in chickens

Principal Investigator: Joshua Gong, Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada
Co-investigator: John Prescott, University of Guelph; Dion Lepp, Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada
Status: Completed


To determine if pilin subunits are effective as protective antigens to control necrotic enteritis in poultry.


Clostridium perfringens causes necrotic enteritis (NE), an economically important disease that occurs in poultry. In North America, NE is traditionally controlled through the application of dietary antibiotics; however this practice has come under criticism due to concerns over the development of antimicrobial resistance. The European ban of the use of antibiotics in feed was quickly followed by an observed increase in the incidence of NE by broiler producers. The anticipated adoption of similar restrictions in North America suggests an urgent need for the development of alternatives to antibiotics.       While vaccination is one of the most successful approaches for controlling infectious disease, an effective vaccine for NE has yet to be developed. Recent advances have led to the identification of additional C. perfringens genes associated with disease-causing strains. Our group has identified three novel NE-associated pathogenicity loci, termed NE-locus 1, 2 and 3. One locus of particular interest among the newly identified NE-associated loci encodes a putative pilus. Pilus-related proteins have proven to be effective vaccines for a number of human and animal infections. Since this novel locus is present mainly in NE isolates of C. perfringens, the encoded pilus is hypothesized to be a poultry-specific colonization factor important in establishing C. perfringens populations during NE development, and as such, has good potential for development into a vaccine to control NE. This activity will assess the ability of novel C. perfringens proteins to act as immunoprotective antigens against NE in poultry. These antigens have potential to be used for future development


$174,857 (AAFC/CPRC)


This research was part of the Poultry Science Cluster 2 which was supported by AAFC as part of Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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