Differential Cellular Response to Translocated Toxic Effectors and Physical Penetration by the Type VI Secretion System

Fatima Kamal, Xiaoye Liang, Kevin Manera, Tong-Tong Pei, Haeun Kim, Linh G Lam, Alexander Pun, Steven J Hersch, Tao G Dong
Cell Reports 2020 June 16, 31 (11): 107766
The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a lethal microbial weapon that injects a large needle-like structure carrying toxic effectors into recipient cells through physical penetration. How recipients respond to physical force and effectors remains elusive. Here, we use a series of effector mutants of Vibrio cholerae to determine how T6SS elicits response in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli. We show that TseL, but no other effectors or physical puncture, triggers the tit-for-tat response of P. aeruginosa H1-T6SS. Although E. coli is sensitive to all periplasmically expressed effectors, P. aeruginosa is most sensitive to TseL alone. We identify a number of stress response pathways that confer protection against TseL. Physical puncture of T6SS has a moderate inhibitory effect only on envelope-impaired tolB and rseA mutants. Our data reveal that recipient cells primarily respond to effector toxicity but not to physical contact, and they rely on the stress response for immunity-independent protection.

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