The Food Poisoning Toxins of Bacillus cereus
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionToxins. 2021, 13 (2), 1-48. 10.3390/toxins13020098
Bacillus cereus is a ubiquitous soil bacterium responsible for two types of food-associated gastrointestinal diseases. While the emetic type, a food intoxication, manifests in nausea and vomiting, food infections with enteropathogenic strains cause diarrhea and abdominal pain. Causative toxins are the cyclic dodecadepsipeptide cereulide, and the proteinaceous enterotoxins hemolysin BL (Hbl), nonhemolytic enterotoxin (Nhe) and cytotoxin K (CytK), respectively. This review covers the current knowledge on distribution and genetic organization of the toxin genes, as well as mechanisms of enterotoxin gene regulation and toxin secretion. In this context, the exceptionally high variability of toxin production between single strains is highlighted. In addition, the mode of action of the pore-forming enterotoxins and their effect on target cells is described in detail. The main focus of this review are the two tripartite enterotoxin complexes Hbl and Nhe, but the latest findings on cereulide and CytK are also presented, as well as methods for toxin detection, and the contribution of further putative virulence factors to the diarrheal disease.