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A widespread bacterial type VI secretion effector superfamily identified using a heuristic approach

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


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Sophisticated mechanisms are employed to facilitate information exchange between interfacing bacteria. A type VI secretion system (T6SS) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa was shown to deliver cell wall-targeting effectors to neighboring cells. However, the generality of bacteriolytic effectors and, moreover, of antibacterial T6S remained unknown. Using parameters derived from experimentally validated bacterial T6SS effectors we identified a phylogenetically disperse superfamily of T6SS-associated peptidoglycan-degrading effectors. The effectors separate into four families composed of peptidoglycan amidase enzymes of differing specificities. Effectors strictly co-occur with cognate immunity proteins, indicating that self-intoxication is a general property of antibacterial T6SSs and effector delivery by the system exerts a strong selective pressure in nature. The presence of antibacterial effectors in a plethora of organisms, including many that inhabit or infect polymicrobial niches in the human body, suggests that the system could mediate interbacterial interactions of both environmental and clinical significance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Russell AB, Singh P, Brittnacher M, Bui NK, Hood RD, Carl MA, Agnello DM, Schwarz S, Goodlett DR, Vollmer W, Mougous JD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cell Host & Microbe

Year: 2012

Volume: 11

Issue: 5

Pages: 538-549

Print publication date: 16/05/2012

ISSN (print): 1931-3128

ISSN (electronic): 1934-6069

Publisher: Cell Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2012.04.007


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Funder referenceFunder name
Burroughs Wellcome Fund
European Commission within the DIVINOCELL
AI080609National Institutes of Health
AI057141National Institutes of Health
DGE-0718124National Science Foundation