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Res Microbiol. 2013 Jul-Aug;164(6):640-54. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2013.03.017. Epub 2013 Mar 27.

The Type VI secretion system - a widespread and versatile cell targeting system.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dow Street, Dundee DD1 5EH, UK.


The Type VI secretion system (T6SS) is the most recently described of the Gram-negative bacterial secretion systems and is widely distributed amongst diverse species. T6SSs are currently believed to be complex molecular machines which inject effector proteins into target cells and which incorporate a bacteriophage-like cell-puncturing device. T6SSs have been implicated in eukaryotic cell targeting and virulence in a range of important pathogens. More recently, 'antibacterial' T6SSs have been reported, which are used to efficiently target competitor bacterial cells by the injection of antibacterial toxins. Although it is clear that T6SSs can be deployed as versatile weapons to compete with other bacteria or attack simple or higher eukaryotes, much remains to be determined about this intriguing system.


Bacterial competition; Bacterial protein secretion; Secreted effector; Type VI secretion; Virulence

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