2015 - 2018

A novel necrotic enteritis vaccine strategy: type IV pilus of Clostridium perfringens

Principal Investigator: Martine Boulianne, University of Montreal
Co-investigator: Marie Archambault, University of Montreal; Marie-Lou Gaucher, University of Montreal
Status: Completed


To develop an effective vaccine strategy against Clostridium perfringens (CP).


There is increased pressure from consumers, restaurants and government authorities to produce antibiotic free (ABF) chicken.  This is a challenge for the Canadian poultry industry as chickens raised with no antibiotics and no anticoccidials are more at risk to develop necrotic enteritis (NE). Research suggests that C. perfringens able to cause NE, possess specific virulence factors conferring them a competitive advantage in the presence of other predisposing factors, however the specific genetic signature in these strains has not been identified.  Attachment is usually recognized as an initial step to the establishment of a bacterial infection, however, little research has investigated this path and most research efforts have focused on toxin identification. C. perfringens has the necessary genetic makeup required for the synthesis of a type IV pilus, a bacterial structure playing a predominant role in the adhesion of bacteria.  In some bacteria, host cell contact triggers the activation of a response favouring increased gene expression for type IV pilus and eventually toxin production. No molecular epidemiological study has compared the organization of genes encoding the type IV pilus in both commensal and virulent C. perfringens strains, nor the role of these genes in the colonization of broilers and in the appearance of necrotic enteritis.  Therefore the objective of this study is to evaluate the role of attachment mediated by type IV pilus in the virulence of C. perfringens to ultimately develop a new vaccine strategy.


$110,000 ($50,000 CPRC, $25,000 Mitacs, $10,000 U of Montreal Chair in Poultry, $25,000 Quebec poultry associations)

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