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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46390. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046390. Epub 2012 Oct 4.

Type-IVC secretion system: a novel subclass of type IV secretion system (T4SS) common existing in gram-positive genus Streptococcus.

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National Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention/State Key Laboratory for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, Beijing, China.


A growing number of pathogens are being found to possess specialized secretion systems which they use in various ways to subvert host defenses. Type IV secretion system (T4SS) is one of versatile secretion systems essential for the virulence and even survival of some bacteria species, and they enable the secretion of protein and DNA substrates across the cell envelope. T4SS was once believed to be present only in Gram-negative bacteria. In this study, we present evidence of a new subclass of T4SS, Type-IVC secretion system and indicate its common existence in the Gram-positive bacterial genus Streptococcus. We further identified that VirB1, VirB4, VirB6 and VirD4 are the minimal key components of this system. Using genome comparisons and evolutionary relationship analysis, we proposed that Type-IVC secretion system is movable via transposon factors and mediates the conjugative transfer of DNA, enhances bacterial pathogenicity, and could cause large-scale outbreaks of infections in humans.

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