This study identified and assessed secreted proteins of Clostridium perfringens additional to those previously described for their ability to protect broiler chickens against necrotic enteritis (NE). Secreted proteins of virulent and avirulent C. perfringens were electrophoretically separated and reacted with serum of chickens immune to NE. Three immunoreactive protein bands unique to the virulent C. perfringens were identified by mass spectrometry as the toxin C. perfringens large cytotoxin (TpeL), endo-beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase (Naglu), and phosphoglyceromutase (Pgm). The genes encoding Naglu and Pgm proteins were cloned, and their gene products were purified as histidine-tagged recombinant proteins from Escherichia coli and used in immunizing chickens. Immunized and nonimmunized control broiler chickens were then challenged with two different strains (CP1, CP4) of C. perfringens and assessed for the development of NE. Of the two immunogens, Pgm immunization showed significant protection of broiler chickens against experimental NE, although protection reduced as challenge severity increased. However, birds immunized with Naglu were protected from challenge only with strain CP4. Birds immunized with these proteins had antigen-specific antibodies when tested in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In conclusion, this study demonstrated the partial efficacy of additional secreted proteins in immunity of broiler chickens to NE. The study also showed that there may be differences in the protective ability of immunogens depending on the infecting C. perfringens strain.
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Vol. 53 • No. 3