Editors' ChoiceMicrobiology

Bacterial Détente?

Sci. Signal.  15 Oct 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 297, pp. ec252
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004813

Type VI secretion systems (T6SS) correspond to dynamic intracellular organelles that are functionally analogous to contractile bacteriophage tails. The T6SS of several bacteria species are responsible for antagonistic behavior that likely reflects the translocation of toxic proteins (effectors) between cells. Pseudomonas aeruginosa can sense exogenous T6SS attack and assemble its own T6SS apparatus to launch a retaliatory attack aimed directly at the attacker. Now, Ho et al. describe how exogenous attack is sensed in a process that involves membrane disruption and suggest that the T6SS provides a general cellular defense mechanism against not only T6SS but also conjugative DNA elements delivered via the type IV secretion system involved in mating pair formation.

B. T. Ho, M. Basler, J. J. Mekalanos, Type 6 secretion system-mediated immunity to type 4 secretion system-mediated gene transfer. Science 342, 250–253 (2013).[Abstract] [Full Text]