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1.  Proteomic Identification of Novel Secreted Antibacterial Toxins of the Serratia marcescens Type VI Secretion System* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2013;12(10):2735-2749.
It has recently become apparent that the Type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a complex macromolecular machine used by many bacterial species to inject effector proteins into eukaryotic or bacterial cells, with significant implications for virulence and interbacterial competition. “Antibacterial” T6SSs, such as the one elaborated by the opportunistic human pathogen, Serratia marcescens, confer on the secreting bacterium the ability to rapidly and efficiently kill rival bacteria. Identification of secreted substrates of the T6SS is critical to understanding its role and ability to kill other cells, but only a limited number of effectors have been reported so far. Here we report the successful use of label-free quantitative mass spectrometry to identify at least eleven substrates of the S. marcescens T6SS, including four novel effector proteins which are distinct from other T6SS-secreted proteins reported to date. These new effectors were confirmed as antibacterial toxins and self-protecting immunity proteins able to neutralize their cognate toxins were identified. The global secretomic study also unexpectedly revealed that protein phosphorylation-based post-translational regulation of the S. marcescens T6SS differs from that of the paradigm, H1-T6SS of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Combined phosphoproteomic and genetic analyses demonstrated that conserved PpkA-dependent threonine phosphorylation of the T6SS structural component Fha is required for T6SS activation in S. marcescens and that the phosphatase PppA can reverse this modification. However, the signal and mechanism of PpkA activation is distinct from that observed previously and does not appear to require cell–cell contact. Hence this study has not only demonstrated that new and species-specific portfolios of antibacterial effectors are secreted by the T6SS, but also shown for the first time that PpkA-dependent post-translational regulation of the T6SS is tailored to fit the needs of different bacterial species.
PMCID: PMC3790287  PMID: 23842002
2.  Highly Virulent Leptospira borgpetersenii Strain Characterized in the Hamster Model 
A recent study by our group reported the isolation and partial serological and molecular characterization of four Leptospira borgpetersenii serogroup Ballum strains. Here, we reproduced experimental leptospirosis in golden Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) and carried out standardization of lethal dose 50% (LD50) of one of these strains (4E). Clinical disease features and histopathologic analyses of tissue lesions were also observed. As results, strain 4E induced lethality in the hamster model with inocula lower than 10 leptospires, and histopathological examination of animals showed typical lesions found in severe leptospirosis. Gross pathological findings were peculiar; animals that died early had more chance of presenting severe jaundice and less chance of presenting pulmonary hemorrhages (P < 0.01). L. borgpetersenii serogroup Ballum has had a considerable growth in human leptospirosis cases in recent years. This strain has now been thoroughly characterized and can be used in more studies, especially evaluations of vaccine candidates.
PMCID: PMC3144824  PMID: 21813846

Results 1-2 (2)