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Paper Chase

Type 6 secretion system-mediated immunity to type 4 secretion system-mediated gene transfer.

Science. Oct 11, 2013;342(6155):250-3.
Ho BT, Basler M, Mekalanos JJ.

Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Gram-negative bacteria use the type VI secretion system (T6SS) to translocate toxic effector proteins into adjacent cells. The Pseudomonas aeruginosa H1-locus T6SS assembles in response to exogenous T6SS attack by other bacteria. We found that this lethal T6SS counterattack also occurs in response to the mating pair formation (Mpf) system encoded by broad-host-range IncPα conjugative plasmid RP4 present in adjacent donor cells. This T6SS response was eliminated by disruption of Mpf structural genes but not components required only for DNA transfer. Because T6SS activity was also strongly induced by membrane-disrupting natural product polymyxin B, we conclude that RP4 induces "donor-directed T6SS attacks" at sites corresponding to Mpf-mediated membrane perturbations in recipient P. aeruginosa cells to potentially block acquisition of parasitic foreign DNA.