Clostridium difficile toxins a and b decrease intestinal SLC26A3 protein expression

Hayley Coffing, Shubha Priyamvada, Arivarasu N. Anbazhagan, Christine Salibay, Melinda Engevik, James Versalovic, Mary Beth Yacyshyn, Bruce Yacyshyn, Sangeeta Tyagi, Seema Saksena, Ravinder K. Gill, Waddah A. Alrefai, Pradeep K. Dudeja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is the primary cause of nosocomial diarrhea in the United States. Although C. difficile toxins A and B are the primary mediators of CDI, the overall pathophysiology underlying C. difficileassociated diarrhea remains poorly understood. Studies have shown that a decrease in both NHE3 (Na+/H+ exchanger) and DRA (downregulated in adenoma, Cl-/HCO3 - exchanger), resulting in decreased electrolyte absorption, is implicated in infectious and inflammatory diarrhea. Furthermore, studies have shown that NHE3 is depleted at the apical surface of intestinal epithelial cells and downregulated in patients with CDI, but the role of DRA in CDI remains unknown. In the current studies, we examined the effects of C. difficile toxins TcdA and TcdB on DRA protein and mRNA levels in intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). Our data demonstrated that DRA protein levels were significantly reduced in response to TcdA and TcdB in IECs in culture. This effect was also specific to DRA, as NHE3 and PAT-1 (putative anion transporter 1) protein levels were unaffected by TcdA and TcdB. Additionally, purified TcdA and TcdA + TcdB, but not TcdB, resulted in a decrease in colonic DRA protein levels in a toxigenic mouse model of CDI. Finally, patients with recurrent CDI also exhibited significantly reduced expression of colonic DRA protein. Together, these findings indicate that C. difficile toxins markedly downregulate intestinal expression of DRA which may contribute to the diarrheal phenotype of CDI. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Our studies demonstrate, for the first time, that C. difficile toxins reduce DRA protein, but not mRNA, levels in intestinal epithelial cells. These findings suggest that a downregulation of DRA may be a critical factor in C. difficile infection-associated diarrhea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G43-G52
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Chloride transport
  • Clostridium difficile
  • DRA
  • Human CDI
  • Toxigenic mouse model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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