Identification of T6SS-dependent effector and immunity proteins by Tn-seq in Vibrio cholerae

Jessica brought this paper to my attention before she left; it’s a new one in PNAS from the Mekalanos lab.  They use Tn-seq to identify new effector proteins associated with the Type VI section system in Vibrio cholerae.  It’s a nice screen comparing Tn-seq results from transposon libraries constructed in either WT or T6SS mutant backgrounds, then identifying genes that appear to be essential in WT but not in the T6SS mutant.

Abstract:  Type VI protein secretion system (T6SS) is important for bacterial competition through contact-dependent killing of competitors. T6SS delivers effectors to neighboring cells and corresponding antagonistic proteins confer immunity against effectors that are delivered by sister cells. Although T6SS has been found in more than 100 gram-negative bacteria including many important human pathogens, few T6SS-dependent effector and immunity proteins have been experimentally determined. Here we report a high-throughput approach using transposon mutagenesis and deep sequencing (Tn-seq) to identify T6SS immunity proteins in Vibrio cholerae. Saturating transposon mutagenesis was performed in wild type and a T6SS null mutant. Genes encoding immunity proteins were predicted to be essential in the wild type but dispensable in the T6SS mutant. By comparing the relative abundance of each transposon mutant in the mutant library using deep sequencing, we identified three immunity proteins that render protection against killing by T6SS predatory cells. We also identified their three cognate T6SS-secreted effectors and show these are important for not only antibacterial and antieukaryotic activities but also assembly of T6SS apparatus. The lipase and muramidase T6SS effectors identified in this study underscore the diversity of T6SS-secreted substrates and the distinctly different mechanisms that target these for secretion by the dynamic T6SS organelle.

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