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A Drosophila Model for Clostridium difficile Toxin CDT Reveals Interactions with Multiple Effector Pathways.


Clostridium difficile infections (CDIs) cause severe and occasionally life-threatening diarrhea. Hyper-virulent strains produce CDT, a toxin that ADP-ribosylates actin monomers and inhibits actin polymerization. We created transgenic Drosophila lines expressing the catalytic subunit CDTa to investigate its interaction with host signaling pathways in vivo. When expressed in the midgut, CDTa reduces body weight and fecal output and compromises survival, suggesting severe impairment of digestive functions. At the cellular level, CDTa induces F-actin network collapse, elimination of the intestinal brush border, and disruption of intercellular junctions. We confirm toxin-dependent re-distribution of Rab11 to enterocytes' apical surface and observe suppression of CDTa phenotypes by a Dominant-Negative form of Rab11 or RNAi of the dedicated Rab11GEF Crag (DENND4). We also report that Calmodulin (Cam) is required to mediate CDTa activity. In parallel, chemical inhibition of the Cam/Calcineurin pathway by Cyclosporin A or FK506 also reduces CDTa phenotypes, potentially opening new avenues for treating CDIs.

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