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1.  A Type VI Secretion System Is Involved in Pseudomonas fluorescens Bacterial Competition 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89411.
Protein secretion systems are crucial mediators of bacterial interactions with other organisms. Among them, the type VI secretion system (T6SS) is widespread in Gram-negative bacteria and appears to inject toxins into competitor bacteria and/or eukaryotic cells. Major human pathogens, such as Vibrio cholerae, Burkholderia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, express T6SSs. Bacteria prevent self-intoxication by their own T6SS toxins by producing immunity proteins, which interact with the cognate toxins. We describe here an environmental P. fluorescens strain, MFE01, displaying an uncommon oversecretion of Hcp (hemolysin-coregulated protein) and VgrG (valine-glycine repeat protein G) into the culture medium. These proteins are characteristic components of a functional T6SS. The aim of this study was to attribute a role to this energy-consuming overexpression of the T6SS. The genome of MFE01 contains at least two hcp genes (hcp1 and hcp2), suggesting that there may be two putative T6SS clusters. Phenotypic studies have shown that MFE01 is avirulent against various eukaryotic cell models (amebas, plant or animal cell models), but has antibacterial activity against a wide range of competitor bacteria, including rhizobacteria and clinical bacteria. Depending on the prey cell, mutagenesis of the hcp2 gene in MFE01 abolishes or reduces this antibacterial killing activity. Moreover, the introduction of T6SS immunity proteins from S. marcescens, which is not killed by MFE01, protects E. coli against MFE01 killing. These findings suggest that the protein encoded by hcp2 is involved in the killing activity of MFE01 mediated by effectors of the T6SS targeting the peptidoglycan of Gram-negative bacteria. Our results indicate that MFE01 can protect potato tubers against Pectobacterium atrosepticum, which causes tuber soft rot. Pseudomonas fluorescens is often described as a major PGPR (plant growth-promoting rhizobacterium), and our results suggest that there may be a connection between the T6SS and the PGPR properties of this bacterium.
PMCID: PMC3925238  PMID: 24551247
2.  Virulence of the Pseudomonas fluorescens clinical strain MFN1032 towards Dictyostelium discoideum and macrophages in relation with type III secretion system 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:223.
Pseudomonas fluorescens biovar I MFN1032 is a clinical isolate able to grow at 37°C. This strain displays secretion-mediated hemolytic activity involving phospholipase C and cyclolipopeptides, and a cell-associated hemolytic activity distinct from the secreted hemolytic activity. Cell-associated hemolysis is independent of biosurfactant production and remains in a gacA mutant. Disruption of the hrpU-like operon (the basal part of type III secretion system from rhizospheric strains) suppresses this activity. We hypothesized that this phenotype could reflect evolution of an ancestral mechanism involved in the survival of this species in its natural niche. In this study, we evaluated the hrpU-like operon’s contribution to other virulence mechanisms using a panel of Pseudomonas strains from various sources.
We found that MFN1032 inhibited the growth of the amoebae Dictyostelium discoideum and that this inhibition involved the hrpU-like operon and was absent in a gacA mutant. MFN1032 was capable of causing macrophage lysis, if the hrpU-like operon was intact, and this cytotoxicity remained in a gacA mutant. Cell-associated hemolytic activity and macrophage necrosis were found in other P. fluorescens clinical isolates, but not in biocontrol P. fluorescens strains harbouring hrpU-like operon. The growth of Dictyostelium discoideum was inhibited to a different extent by P. fluorescens strains without correlation between this inhibition and hrpU-like operon sequences.
In P. fluorescens MFN1032, the basal part of type III secretion system plays a role in D. discoideum growth inhibition and macrophage necrosis. The inhibition of D. discoideum growth is dependent on the GacS/GacA system, while cell-associated hemolytic activity and macrophage lysis are not. Virulence against eukaryotic cells based on the hrpU-like operon may be more than just a stochastic evolution of a conserved system dedicated to survival in competition with natural predators such as amoebae. It may also mean that there are some important modifications of other type III secretion system components, which remain unknown. Cell-associated hemolysis might be a good indicator of the virulence of Pseudomonas fluorescens strain.
PMCID: PMC3489880  PMID: 23020706
Pseudomonas fluorescens clinical strains; Type III secretion system; Dictyostelium discoideum; Macrophage necrosis; Cell-associated hemolytic activity
3.  Boolean Models of Biosurfactants Production in Pseudomonas fluorescens 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e24651.
Cyclolipopeptides (CLPs) are biosurfactants produced by numerous Pseudomonas fluorescens strains. CLP production is known to be regulated at least by the GacA/GacS two-component pathway, but the full regulatory network is yet largely unknown. In the clinical strain MFN1032, CLP production is abolished by a mutation in the phospholipase C gene () and not restored by complementation. Their production is also subject to phenotypic variation. We used a modelling approach with Boolean networks, which takes into account all these observations concerning CLP production without any assumption on the topology of the considered network. Intensive computation yielded numerous models that satisfy these properties. All models minimizing the number of components point to a bistability in CLP production, which requires the presence of a yet unknown key self-inducible regulator. Furthermore, all suggest that a set of yet unexplained phenotypic variants might also be due to this epigenetic switch. The simplest of these Boolean networks was used to propose a biological regulatory network for CLP production. This modelling approach has allowed a possible regulation to be unravelled and an unusual behaviour of CLP production in P. fluorescens to be explained.
PMCID: PMC3269426  PMID: 22303435
4.  Cell-associated hemolysis activity in the clinical strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens MFN1032 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:124.
MFN1032 is a clinical Pseudomonas fluorescens strain able to grow at 37°C. MFN1032 cells induce necrosis and apoptosis in rat glial cells at this temperature. This strain displays secretion-mediated hemolytic activity involving phospholipase C and cyclolipopeptides. Under laboratory conditions, this activity is not expressed at 37°C. This activity is tightly regulated and is subject to phase variation.
We found that MFN1032 displays a cell-associated hemolytic activity distinct from the secreted hemolytic activity. Cell-associated hemolysis was expressed at 37°C and was only detected in vitro in mid log growth phase in the presence of erythrocytes. We studied the regulation of this activity in the wild-type strain and in a mutant defective in the Gac two-component pathway. GacS/GacA is a negative regulator of this activity. In contrast to the Pseudomonas fluorescens strains PfO-1 and Pf5, whose genomes have been sequenced, the MFN1032 strain has the type III secretion-like genes hrcRST belonging to the hrpU operon. We showed that disruption of this operon abolished cell-associated hemolytic activity. This activity was not detected in P.fluorescens strains carrying similar hrc genes, as for the P. fluorescens psychrotrophic strain MF37.
To our knowledge this the first demonstration of cell-associated hemolytic activity of a clinical strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens. Moreover, this activity seems to be related to a functional hrpU operon and is independent of biosurfactant production. Precise link between a functional hrpU operon and cell-associated hemolytic activity remains to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC2871272  PMID: 20416103
5.  Involvement of a phospholipase C in the hemolytic activity of a clinical strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:189.
Pseudomonas fluorescens is a ubiquitous Gram-negative bacterium frequently encountered in hospitals as a contaminant of injectable material and surfaces. This psychrotrophic bacterium, commonly described as unable to grow at temperatures above 32°C, is now considered non pathogenic. We studied a recently identified clinical strain of P. fluorescens biovar I, MFN1032, which is considered to cause human lung infection and can grow at 37°C in laboratory conditions.
We found that MFN1032 secreted extracellular factors with a lytic potential at least as high as that of MF37, a psychrotrophic strain of P. fluorescens or the mesophilic opportunistic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. We demonstrated the direct, and indirect – through increases in biosurfactant release – involvement of a phospholipase C in the hemolytic activity of this bacterium. Sequence analysis assigned this phospholipase C to a new group of phospholipases C different from those produced by P. aeruginosa. We show that changes in PlcC production have pleiotropic effects and that plcC overexpression and plcC extinction increase MFN1032 toxicity and colonization, respectively.
This study provides the first demonstration that a PLC is involved in the secreted hemolytic activity of a clinical strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens. Moreover, this phospholipase C seems to belong to a complex biological network associated with the biosurfactant production.
PMCID: PMC2613904  PMID: 18973676

Results 1-5 (5)