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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40453. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040453. Epub 2012 Jul 6.

Structural insights into the effector-immunity system Tse1/Tsi1 from Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Department of Biomolecular Mechanisms, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg, Germany.


During an interbacterial battle, the type-6-secretion-system (T6SS) of the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa injects the peptidoglycan(PG)-hydrolase Tse1 into the periplasm of gram-negative enemy cells and induces their lysis. However, for its own benefit, P. aeruginosa produces and transports the immunity-protein Tsi1 into its own periplasm where in prevents accidental exo- and endogenous intoxication. Here we present the high-resolution X-ray crystal structure of the lytic enzyme Tse1 and describe the mechanism by which Tse1 cleaves the γ-D-glutamyl-l-meso-diaminopimelic acid amide bond of crosslinked PG. Tse1 belongs to the superfamily of N1pC/P60 peptidases but is unique among described members of this family of which the structure was described, since it is a single domain protein without any putative localization domain. Most importantly, we present the crystal structure of Tse1 bound to its immunity-protein Tsi1 as well and describe the mechanism of enzyme inhibition. Tsi1 occludes the active site of Tse1 and abolishes its enzyme activity by forming a hydrogen bond to a catalytically important histidine residue in Tse1. Based on our structural findings in combination with a bioinfomatic approach we also identified a related system in Burkholderia phytofirmans. Not only do our findings point to a common catalytic mechanism of the Tse1 PG-hydrolases, but we can also show that it is distinct from other members of this superfamily. Furthermore, we provide strong evidence that the mechanism of enzyme inhibition between Tsi1 orthologues is conserved. This work is the first structural description of an entire effector/immunity pair injected by the T6SS system. Moreover, it is also the first example of a member of the N1pC/P60 superfamily which becomes inhibited upon binding to its cognate immunity protein.

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