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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Feb 12;110(7):2623-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1222783110. Epub 2013 Jan 29.

Identification of T6SS-dependent effector and immunity proteins by Tn-seq in Vibrio cholerae.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Type VI protein secretion system (T6SS) is important for bacterial competition through contact-dependent killing of competitors. T6SS delivers effectors to neighboring cells and corresponding antagonistic proteins confer immunity against effectors that are delivered by sister cells. Although T6SS has been found in more than 100 gram-negative bacteria including many important human pathogens, few T6SS-dependent effector and immunity proteins have been experimentally determined. Here we report a high-throughput approach using transposon mutagenesis and deep sequencing (Tn-seq) to identify T6SS immunity proteins in Vibrio cholerae. Saturating transposon mutagenesis was performed in wild type and a T6SS null mutant. Genes encoding immunity proteins were predicted to be essential in the wild type but dispensable in the T6SS mutant. By comparing the relative abundance of each transposon mutant in the mutant library using deep sequencing, we identified three immunity proteins that render protection against killing by T6SS predatory cells. We also identified their three cognate T6SS-secreted effectors and show these are important for not only antibacterial and antieukaryotic activities but also assembly of T6SS apparatus. The lipase and muramidase T6SS effectors identified in this study underscore the diversity of T6SS-secreted substrates and the distinctly different mechanisms that target these for secretion by the dynamic T6SS organelle.

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