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Type VI secretion delivers bacteriolytic effectors to target cells

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nhat Khai Bui, Professor Waldemar Vollmer


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Peptidoglycan is the major structural constituent of the bacterial cell wall, forming a meshwork outside the cytoplasmic membrane that maintains cell shape and prevents lysis. In Gram-negative bacteria, peptidoglycan is located in the periplasm, where it is protected from exogenous lytic enzymes by the outer membrane. Here we show that the type VI secretion system of Pseudomonas aeruginosa breaches this barrier to deliver two effector proteins, Tse1 and Tse3, to the periplasm of recipient cells. In this compartment, the effectors hydrolyse peptidoglycan, thereby providing a fitness advantage for P. aeruginosa cells in competition with other bacteria. To protect itself from lysis by Tse1 and Tse3, P. aeruginosa uses specific periplasmically localized immunity proteins. The requirement for these immunity proteins depends on intercellular self-intoxication through an active type VI secretion system, indicating a mechanism for export whereby effectors do not access donor cell periplasm in transit.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Russell AB, Hood RD, Bui NK, LeRoux M, Vollmer W, Mougous JD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature

Year: 2011

Volume: 475

Issue: 7356

Pages: 343-347

Print publication date: 20/07/2011

ISSN (print): 0028-0836

ISSN (electronic): 1476-4687

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/nature10244


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Funder referenceFunder name
European Commission
National Science Foundation
RO1 AI080609National Institutes of Health