PloS one

Contribution of the Pseudomonas fluorescens MFE01 Type VI Secretion System to Biofilm Formation.

PMID 28114423


Type VI secretion systems (T6SSs) are widespread in Gram-negative bacteria, including Pseudomonas. These macromolecular machineries inject toxins directly into prokaryotic or eukaryotic prey cells. Hcp proteins are structural components of the extracellular part of this machinery. We recently reported that MFE01, an avirulent strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens, possesses at least two hcp genes, hcp1 and hcp2, encoding proteins playing important roles in interbacterial interactions. Indeed, P. fluorescens MFE01 can immobilise and kill diverse bacteria of various origins through the action of the Hcp1 or Hcp2 proteins of the T6SS. We show here that another Hcp protein, Hcp3, is involved in killing prey cells during co-culture on solid medium. Even after the mutation of hcp1, hcp2, or hcp3, MFE01 impaired biofilm formation by MFP05, a P. fluorescens strain isolated from human skin. These mutations did not reduce P. fluorescens MFE01 biofilm formation, but the three Hcp proteins were required for the completion of biofilm maturation. Moreover, a mutant with a disruption of one of the unique core component genes, MFE01ΔtssC, was unable to produce its own biofilm or inhibit MFP05 biofilm formation. Finally, MFE01 did not produce detectable N-acyl-homoserine lactones for quorum sensing, a phenomenon reported for many other P. fluorescens strains. Our results suggest a role for the T6SS in communication between bacterial cells, in this strain, under biofilm conditions.