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Nat Commun. 2014 Apr 1;5:3549. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4549.

The Vibrio cholerae type VI secretion system employs diverse effector modules for intraspecific competition.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada AB T6G 2S2.
1] Department of Biological Sciences, University of Texas Brownsville, Brownsville, Texas 78520, USA [2] Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Texas Brownsville, Brownsville, Texas 78520, USA.


Vibrio cholerae is a Gram-negative bacterial pathogen that consists of over 200 serogroups with differing pathogenic potential. Only strains that express the virulence factors cholera toxin (CT) and toxin-coregulated pilus (TCP) are capable of pandemic spread of cholera diarrhoea. Regardless, all V. cholerae strains sequenced to date harbour genes for the type VI secretion system (T6SS) that translocates effectors into neighbouring eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. Here we report that the effectors encoded within these conserved gene clusters differ widely among V. cholerae strains, and that immunity proteins encoded immediately downstream from the effector genes protect their host from neighbouring bacteria producing corresponding effectors. As a consequence, strains with matching effector-immunity gene sets can coexist, while strains with different sets compete against each other. Thus, the V. cholerae T6SS contributes to the competitive behaviour of this species.

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