BcsKC is an essential protein for the type VI secretion system activity in Burkholderia cenocepacia that forms an outer membrane complex with BcsLB

Daniel Aubert, Douglas K MacDonald, Miguel A Valvano
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2010 November 12, 285 (46): 35988-98
The type VI secretion system (T6SS) contributes to the virulence of Burkholderia cenocepacia, an opportunistic pathogen causing serious chronic infections in patients with cystic fibrosis. BcsK(C) is a highly conserved protein among the T6SSs in Gram-negative bacteria. Here, we show that BcsK(C) is required for Hcp secretion and cytoskeletal redistribution in macrophages upon bacterial infection. These two phenotypes are associated with a functional T6SS in B. cenocepacia. Experiments employing a bacterial two-hybrid system and pulldown assays demonstrated that BcsK(C) interacts with BcsL(B), another conserved T6SS component. Internal deletions within BcsK(C) revealed that its N-terminal domain is necessary and sufficient for interaction with BcsL(B). Fractionation experiments showed that BcsK(C) can be in the cytosol or tightly associated with the outer membrane and that BcsK(C) and BcsL(B) form a high molecular weight complex anchored to the outer membrane that requires BcsF(H) (a ClpV homolog) to be assembled. Together, our data show that BcsK(C)/BcsL(B) interaction is essential for the T6SS activity in B. cenocepacia.

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