Pathogenicity of toxigenic corynebacteria

Host-pathogen-interaction: Functional analysis of proteins involved in pathogenicity of Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Corynebacterium ulcerans and Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis


SEM of C. diphtheriae ISS4060, C. ulcerans BR-AD22 and C. pseudotuberculosis FRC41 adhered to Detroit562 cells. Infection of Detroit562 cells with three different corynebacteria species for 90 min under cell culture conditions. Subsequently, cultures were fixed, dehydrated, sputtered with gold and examined using an FEI Quanta 200 scanning electron microscope (Ott, 2018).



Corynebacterium diphtheriae is the causative agent of diphtheria. During infection, this bacterium typically colonizes the upper respiratory tract. However, in the last years also an increasing number of skin infections were reported. We are especially interested in the analysis of adhesion of the pathogen to the host cells and its interaction with macrophages. A main virulence factor of C. diphtheriae is the diphtheria toxin, which is also the basis of diphtheria toxoid vaccines. In a current project, we are investigating the protein content of various vaccines.

Recently, diphtheria and other infections are increasingly reported to be caused by Corynebacterium ulcerans, an emerging pathogen, which is studied by us as well. The Shiga-like toxin, encoded by a distinct strain, and other virulence factors like phospholipase D are studied.