Metabolism the Difficile Way : The Key to the Success of the Pathogen Clostridioides difficile
Strains of Clostridioides difficile cause detrimental diarrheas with thousands of deaths worldwide. The infection process by the Gram-positive, strictly anaerobic gut bacterium is directly related to its unique metabolism, using multiple Stickland-type amino acid fermentation reactions coupled to Rnf complex-mediated sodium/proton gradient formation for ATP generation. Major pathways utilize phenylalanine, leucine, glycine and proline with the formation of 3-phenylproprionate, isocaproate, butyrate, 5-methylcaproate, valerate and 5-aminovalerate. In parallel a versatile sugar catabolism including pyruvate formate-lyase as a central enzyme and an incomplete tricarboxylic acid cycle to prevent unnecessary NADH formation completes the picture. However, a complex gene regulatory network that carefully mediates the continuous adaptation of this metabolism to changing environmental conditions is only partially elucidated. It involves the pleiotropic regulators CodY and SigH, the known carbon metabolism regulator CcpA, the proline regulator PrdR, the iron regulator Fur, the small regulatory RNA CsrA and potentially the NADH-responsive regulator Rex. Here, we describe the current knowledge of the metabolic principles of energy generation by C. difficile and the underlying gene regulatory scenarios.