The structure of the S-layer of Clostridium difficile
Bradshaw WJ., Roberts AK., Shone CC., Acharya KR.
The nosocomially acquired pathogen Clostridium difficile is the primary causative agent of antibiotic associated diarrhoea and causes tens of thousands of deaths globally each year. C. difficile presents a paracrystalline protein array on the surface of the cell known as an S-layer. S-layers have been demonstrated to possess a wide range of important functions, which, combined with their inherent accessibility, makes them a promising drug target. The unusually complex S-layer of C. difficile is primarily comprised of the high- and low- molecular weight S-layer proteins, HMW SLP and LMW SLP, formed from the cleavage of the S-layer precursor protein, SlpA, but may also contain up to 28 SlpA paralogues. A model of how the S-layer functions as a whole is required if it is to be exploited in fighting the bacterium. Here, we provide a summary of what is known about the S-layer of C. difficile and each of the paralogues and, considering some of the domains present, suggest potential roles for them.