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PLoS Pathog. 2016 Jan 14;12(1):e1005391. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005391. eCollection 2016 Jan.

Medically Relevant Acinetobacter Species Require a Type II Secretion System and Specific Membrane-Associated Chaperones for the Export of Multiple Substrates and Full Virulence.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America.


Acinetobacter baumannii, A. nosocomialis, and A. pittii have recently emerged as opportunistic human pathogens capable of causing severe human disease; however, the molecular mechanisms employed by Acinetobacter to cause disease remain poorly understood. Many pathogenic members of the genus Acinetobacter contain genes predicted to encode proteins required for the biogenesis of a type II secretion system (T2SS), which have been shown to mediate virulence in many Gram-negative organisms. Here we demonstrate that Acinetobacter nosocomialis strain M2 produces a functional T2SS, which is required for full virulence in both the Galleria mellonella and murine pulmonary infection models. Importantly, this is the first bona fide secretion system shown to be required for virulence in Acinetobacter. Using bioinformatics, proteomics, and mutational analyses, we show that Acinetobacter employs its T2SS to export multiple substrates, including the lipases LipA and LipH as well as the protease CpaA. Furthermore, the Acinetobacter T2SS, which is found scattered amongst five distinct loci, does not contain a dedicated pseudopilin peptidase, but instead relies on the type IV prepilin peptidase, reinforcing the common ancestry of these two systems. Lastly, two of the three secreted proteins characterized in this study require specific chaperones for secretion. These chaperones contain an N-terminal transmembrane domain, are encoded adjacently to their cognate effector, and their disruption abolishes type II secretion of their cognate effector. Bioinformatic analysis identified putative chaperones located adjacent to multiple previously known type II effectors from several Gram-negative bacteria, which suggests that T2SS chaperones constitute a separate class of membrane-associated chaperones mediating type II secretion.

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