The Clostridium difficile S-layer in infection and transmission


  • Dr Robert Fagan

    University of Sheffield

  • Dr Paula Salgado

    Newcastle University

  • Dr Gillian Douce

    University of Glasgow

Project summary

One of the most common infections in hospitals today is caused by Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that is notoriously difficult to kill. Apart from its resistance to most antibiotics, C. diff, as it is commonly known, has two other features that are essential for infection: a protective shell made of protein that covers the cell, known as the S-layer, and the ability to produce dormant forms, known as spores. While the S-layer provides defensive armour that protects the bacteria from the hostile environment in the gut, spores that contaminate the environment are resistant to most cleaning strategies and are responsible for transmission of the infection. Recently, we have shown that C.diff that do not have an S-layer are unable to cause disease and are inefficient at making spores.

We will combine our joint expertise to study how the S-layer is organised and the precise role it plays in infection and transmission.

As the S-layer has been recently shown to be a valid drug target, these studies will also reveal potential new targets for future treatment development. Our work will provide an understanding of how C. diff causes disease and how key processes might be disrupted.