Research Article

Molecular cloning and expression of epsilon toxin from Clostridium perfringens type D and tests of animal immunization

Abstract

Epsilon toxin produced by Clostridium perfringens types B and D causes enterotoxemia in sheep, goats and calves. Enterotoxemia can cause acute or superacute disease, with sudden death of the affected animal. It provokes huge economic losses when large numbers of livestock are affected. Therapeutic intervention is challenging, because the disease progresses very rapidly. However, it can be prevented by immunization with specific immunogenic vaccines. We cloned the etx gene, encoding epsilon toxin, into vector pET-11a; recombinant epsilon toxin (rec-ε) was expressed in inclusion bodies and was used for animal immunization. Serum protection was evaluated and cross-serum neutralization tests were used to characterize the recombinant toxin. To analyze the potency of the toxin (as an antigen), rabbits were immunized with 50, 100 or 200 μg recombinant toxin, using aluminum hydroxide gel as an adjuvant. Titers of 10, 30 and 40 IU/mL were obtained, respectively. These titers were higher than the minimum level required by the European Pharmacopoeia (5 IU/mL) and by the USA Code of Federal Regulation (2 IU/mL). This rec-ε is a good candidate for vaccine production against enterotoxemia caused by epsilon toxin of C. perfringens type D.

Epsilon toxin produced by Clostridium perfringens types B and D causes enterotoxemia in sheep, goats and calves. Enterotoxemia can cause acute or superacute disease, with sudden death of the affected animal. It provokes huge economic losses when large numbers of livestock are affected. Therapeutic intervention is challenging, because the disease progresses very rapidly. However, it can be prevented by immunization with specific immunogenic vaccines. We cloned the etx gene, encoding epsilon toxin, into vector pET-11a; recombinant epsilon toxin (rec-ε) was expressed in inclusion bodies and was used for animal immunization. Serum protection was evaluated and cross-serum neutralization tests were used to characterize the recombinant toxin. To analyze the potency of the toxin (as an antigen), rabbits were immunized with 50, 100 or 200 μg recombinant toxin, using aluminum hydroxide gel as an adjuvant. Titers of 10, 30 and 40 IU/mL were obtained, respectively. These titers were higher than the minimum level required by the European Pharmacopoeia (5 IU/mL) and by the USA Code of Federal Regulation (2 IU/mL). This rec-ε is a good candidate for vaccine production against enterotoxemia caused by epsilon toxin of C. perfringens type D.