The structure of the S-layer of Clostridium difficile

William J. Bradshaw, April K. Roberts, Clifford Shone, K. Ravi Acharya*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-331
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank Harry Thorpe (University of Bath) for assistance creating Fig. 2 . Funding This work was supported by a postgraduate studentship from Public Health England (PHE, Porton Down, England) and the University of Bath to WJB and a Medical Research Council (UK) project grant (MR/ K027123/1) to KRA and CCS. KRA wishes to thank University of Bath for a 6-month academic sabbatical leave.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, The Author(s).


  • Bacterial adhesion
  • C. difficile Infection
  • Cell wall protein
  • Clostridium Difficile
  • Colitis
  • S-layer


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