Nature communications

Bacterial killing via a type IV secretion system.

PMID 25743609


Type IV secretion systems (T4SSs) are multiprotein complexes that transport effector proteins and protein-DNA complexes through bacterial membranes to the extracellular milieu or directly into the cytoplasm of other cells. Many bacteria of the family Xanthomonadaceae, which occupy diverse environmental niches, carry a T4SS with unknown function but with several characteristics that distinguishes it from other T4SSs. Here we show that the Xanthomonas citri T4SS provides these cells the capacity to kill other Gram-negative bacterial species in a contact-dependent manner. The secretion of one type IV bacterial effector protein is shown to require a conserved C-terminal domain and its bacteriolytic activity is neutralized by a cognate immunity protein whose 3D structure is similar to peptidoglycan hydrolase inhibitors. This is the first demonstration of the involvement of a T4SS in bacterial killing and points to this special class of T4SS as a mediator of both antagonistic and cooperative interbacterial interactions.