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Mol Microbiol. 2008 Dec;70(6):1378-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06487.x. Epub 2008 Oct 24.

Identification of VceA and VceC, two members of the VjbR regulon that are translocated into macrophages by the Brucella type IV secretion system.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of California at Davis, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616-8645, USA.


Survival and replication inside host cells by Brucella spp. requires a type IV secretion system (T4SS), encoded by the virB locus. However, the identity of the molecules secreted by the T4SS has remained elusive. We hypothesized that proteins translocated by the T4SS would be co-regulated with the virB operon. The LuxR family regulator VjbR, known to regulate virB, bound a fragment of the virB promoter containing an 18 bp palindromic motif (virB promoter box), showing that VjbR regulated the virB operon directly. To identify virB co-regulated genes, we searched the Brucella suis 1330 and B. abortus 2308 genomes for genes with an upstream virB promoter box. One hundred and forty-four promoters in the two genomes contained the virB promoter box, including those of fliC encoding flagellin and cgs encoding cyclic beta-glucan synthetase. Thirteen of these proteins were tested for VirB-dependent translocation into macrophages using a beta-lactamase reporter assay. This analysis resulted in the identification of the proteins encoded by BAB1_1652 (VceA) and BR1038/BAB1_1058 (VceC) as novel protein substrates of the Brucella T4SS. VceC could also be translocated by the Legionella pneumophila Dot/Icm T4SS into host cells. Our results suggest that VjbR co-ordinates expression of the T4SS and at least two of its secreted substrates.

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