Characterization of a Haemophilus ducreyi mutant deficient in expression of cytolethal distending toxin

Marla K. Stevens, Jo L. Latimer, Sheryl R. Lumbley, Christine K. Ward, Leslie D. Cope, Teresa Lagergard, Eric J. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Haemophilus ducreyi expresses a soluble cytolethal distending toxin (CDT) that kills HeLa, HEp-2, and other human epithelial cells in vitro. H. ducreyi CDT activity is encoded by a three-gene cluster (cdtABC), and antibody to the cdtC gene product can neutralize CDT activity in vitro (L. D. Cope, S. R. Lumbley, J. L. Latimer, J. Klesney-Tait, M. K. Stevens, L. S. Johnson, M. Purven, R. S. Munson, Jr., T. Lagergard, J. D. Radolf, and E. J. Hansen, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94:4056-4061, 1997). Culture supernatant fluid from a recombinant Escherichia coli strain containing the H. ducreyi cdtABC gene cluster readily killed both HeLa cells and HaCaT keratinocytes and had a modest inhibitory effect on the growth of human foreskin fibroblasts. Insertional inactivation of the cdtC gene in this recombinant E. coli strain eliminated the ability of this strain to kill HeLa cells and HaCaT keratinocytes. This mutated H. ducreyi cdtABC gene cluster was used to construct an isogenic H. ducreyi cdtC mutant. Monoclonal antibodies against the H. ducreyi CdtA, CdtB, and CdtC proteins were used to characterize protein expression by this cdtC mutant. Culture supernatant fluid from this H. ducreyi cdtC mutant did not detectably affect any of the human cells used in this study. The presence of the wild-type H. ducreyi cdtC gene in trans in this H. ducreyi mutant restored its ability to express a CDT that killed both HeLa cells and HaCaT keratinocytes. The isogenic H. ducreyi cdtC mutant was shown to be as virulent as its wild-type parent strain in the temperature- dependent rabbit model for experimental chancroid. Lack of expression of the H. ducreyi CdtC protein also did not affect the ability of this H. ducreyi mutant to survive in the skin of rabbits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3900-3908
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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