1887

Abstract

The type VII protein secretion system (T7SS) has been characterized in members of the phyla Actinobacteria and Firmicutes. In mycobacteria the T7SS is intimately linked with pathogenesis and intracellular survival, while in Firmicutes there is mounting evidence that the system plays a key role in interbacterial competition. A conserved membrane-bound ATPase protein, termed EssC in , is a critical component of the T7SS and is the primary receptor for substrate proteins. Genetic diversity in the gene of has previously been reported, resulting in four protein variants that are linked to specific subsets of substrates. Here we have analysed the genetic diversity of the T7SS-encoding genes and substrate proteins across genome sequences. We find that there are seven EssC variants across the species that differ in their C-terminal region; each variant is correlated with a distinct subset of genes for likely substrate and accessory proteins. EssC1 is most common and is exclusively linked with polymorphic toxins harbouring a YeeF domain, whereas EssC5, EssC6 and EssC7 variants all code for an LXG domain protein adjacent to . Some variant strains encode an additional, truncated at their T7 gene cluster. The truncated EssC, comprising only the C-terminal half of the protein, matches the sequence of either EssC2, EssC3 or EssC4. In each case the truncated gene directly precedes a cluster of substrate/accessory protein genes acquired from the corresponding strain. Across strains we identified 40 LXG domain proteins, most of which are encoded at conserved genomic loci. These loci also harbour genes encoding immunity proteins and sometimes additional toxin fragments. Collectively our findings strongly suggest that the T7SS plays an important role in bacterial antagonism in this species.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Wellcome Trust (Award 10183/Z/15/Z)
    • Principle Award Recipient: TracyPalmer
  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. This article was made open access via a Publish and Read agreement between the Microbiology Society and the corresponding author’s institution.
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2021-02-18
2021-10-25
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