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Acta Crystallographica Section D: Biological Crystallography (1)
Journal of Bacteriology (1)
Molecular Microbiology (1)
English, Grant (3)
Coulthurst, Sarah J. (2)
Trunk, Katharina (2)
Coulthurst, Sarah J (1)
Fritsch, Maximilian J. (1)
Hunter, William N (1)
Hunter, William N. (1)
Murdoch, Sarah L. (1)
Pourkarimi, Ehsan (1)
Rao, Vincenzo A (1)
Rao, Vincenzo A. (1)
Shepherd, Sharon M. (1)
Srikannathasan, Velupillai (1)
Year of Publication
The Opportunistic Pathogen Serratia marcescens Utilizes Type VI Secretion To Target Bacterial Competitors ▿†
Murdoch, Sarah L.
Fritsch, Maximilian J.
Coulthurst, Sarah J.
Journal of Bacteriology
The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is the most recently described and least understood of the protein secretion systems of Gram-negative bacteria. It is widely distributed and has been implicated in the virulence of various pathogens, but its mechanism and exact mode of action remain to be defined. Additionally there have been several very recent reports that some T6SSs can target bacteria rather than eukaryotic cells. Serratia marcescens is an opportunistic enteric pathogen, a class of bacteria responsible for a significant proportion of hospital-acquired infections. We describe the identification of a functional T6SS in S. marcescens strain Db10, the first report of type VI secretion by an opportunist enteric bacterium. The T6SS of S. marcescens Db10 is active, with secretion of Hcp to the culture medium readily detected, and is expressed constitutively under normal growth conditions from a large transcriptional unit. Expression of the T6SS genes did not appear to be dependent on the integrity of the T6SS. The S. marcescens Db10 T6SS is not required for virulence in three nonmammalian virulence models. It does, however, exhibit dramatic antibacterial killing activity against several other bacterial species and is required for S. marcescens to persist in a mixed culture with another opportunist pathogen, Enterobacter cloacae. Importantly, this antibacterial killing activity is highly strain specific, with the S. marcescens Db10 T6SS being highly effective against another strain of S. marcescens with a very similar and active T6SS. We conclude that type VI secretion plays a crucial role in the competitiveness, and thus indirectly the virulence, of S. marcescens and other opportunistic bacterial pathogens.
The structure of Serratia marcescens Lip, a membrane-bound component of the type VI secretion system
Rao, Vincenzo A.
Shepherd, Sharon M.
Coulthurst, Sarah J.
Hunter, William N.
Acta Crystallographica Section D: Biological Crystallography
The high-resolution crystal structure of S. marcescens Lip reveals a new member of the transthyretin family of proteins. Lip, a core component of the type VI secretion apparatus, is localized to the outer membrane and is positioned to interact with other proteins forming this complex system.
Lip is a membrane-bound lipoprotein and a core component of the type VI secretion system found in Gram-negative bacteria. The structure of a Lip construct (residues 29–176) from Serratia marcescens (SmLip) has been determined at 1.92 Å resolution. Experimental phases were derived using a single-wavelength anomalous dispersion approach on a sample cocrystallized with iodide. The membrane localization of the native protein was confirmed. The structure is that of the globular domain lacking only the lipoprotein signal peptide and the lipidated N-terminus of the mature protein. The protein fold is dominated by an eight-stranded β-sandwich and identifies SmLip as a new member of the transthyretin family of proteins. Transthyretin and the only other member of the family fold, 5-hydroxyisourate hydrolase, form homotetramers important for their function. The asymmetric unit of SmLip is a tetramer with 222 symmetry, but the assembly is distinct from that previously noted for the transthyretin protein family. However, structural comparisons and bacterial two-hybrid data suggest that the SmLip tetramer is not relevant to its role as a core component of the type VI secretion system, but rather reflects a propensity for SmLip to participate in protein–protein interactions. A relatively low level of sequence conservation amongst Lip homologues is noted and is restricted to parts of the structure that might be involved in interactions with physiological partners.
β-sandwich; Gram-negative pathogens; lipoproteins; protein secretion; transthyretin; virulence
New secreted toxins and immunity proteins encoded within the Type VI secretion system gene cluster of Serratia marcescens
Rao, Vincenzo A
Hunter, William N
Coulthurst, Sarah J
Protein secretion systems are critical to bacterial virulence and interactions with other organisms. The Type VI secretion system (T6SS) is found in many bacterial species and is used to target either eukaryotic cells or competitor bacteria. However, T6SS-secreted proteins have proven surprisingly elusive. Here, we identified two secreted substrates of the antibacterial T6SS from the opportunistic human pathogen, Serratia marcescens. Ssp1 and Ssp2, both encoded within the T6SS gene cluster, were confirmed as antibacterial toxins delivered by the T6SS. Four related proteins encoded around the Ssp proteins (‘Rap’ proteins) included two specifically conferring self-resistance (‘immunity’) against T6SS-dependent Ssp1 or Ssp2 toxicity. Biochemical characterization revealed specific, tight binding between cognate Ssp–Rap pairs, forming complexes of 2:2 stoichiometry. The atomic structures of two Rap proteins were solved, revealing a novel helical fold, dependent on a structural disulphide bond, a structural feature consistent with their functional localization. Homologues of the Serratia Ssp and Rap proteins are found encoded together within other T6SS gene clusters, thus they represent founder members of new families of T6SS-secreted and cognate immunity proteins. We suggest that Ssp proteins are the original substrates of the S. marcescens T6SS, before horizontal acquisition of other T6SS-secreted toxins. Molecular insight has been provided into how pathogens utilize antibacterial T6SSs to overcome competitors and succeed in polymicrobial niches.
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