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Mol Microbiol. 2010 Dec;78(6):1365-78. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2010.07413.x. Epub 2010 Oct 12.

The Shigella T3SS needle transmits a signal for MxiC release, which controls secretion of effectors.

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University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TD, UK.


Type III secretion systems (T3SSs) are key determinants of virulence in many Gram-negative bacteria, including animal and plant pathogens. They inject 'effector' proteins through a 'needle' protruding from the bacterial surface directly into eukaryotic cells after assembly of a 'translocator' pore in the host plasma membrane. Secretion is a tightly regulated process, which is blocked until physical contact with a host cell takes place. Host cell sensing occurs through a distal needle 'tip complex' and translocators are secreted before effectors. MxiC, a Shigella T3SS substrate, prevents premature effector secretion. Here, we examine how the different parts of T3SSs work together to allow orderly secretion. We show that T3SS assembly and needle tip composition are not altered in an mxiC mutant. We find that MxiC not only represses effector secretion but that it is also required for translocator release. We provide genetic evidence that MxiC acts downstream of the tip complex and then the needle during secretion activation. Finally, we show that the needle controls MxiC release. Therefore, for the first time, our data allow us to propose a model of secretion activation that goes from the tip complex to cytoplasmic MxiC via the needle.

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