Multiple T6SSs, Mobile Auxiliary Modules, and Effectors Revealed in a Systematic Analysis of the Vibrio parahaemolyticus Pan-Genome

Biswanath Jana, Kinga Keppel, Chaya Mushka Fridman, Eran Bosis*, Dor Salomon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Type VI secretion systems (T6SSs) play a major role in interbacterial competition and in bacterial interactions with eukaryotic cells. The distribution of T6SSs and the effectors they secrete vary between strains of the same bacterial species. Therefore, a pan-genome investigation is required to better understand the T6SS potential of a bacterial species of interest. Here, we performed a comprehensive, systematic analysis of T6SS gene clusters and auxiliary modules found in the pan-genome of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, an emerging pathogen widespread in marine environments. We identified 4 different T6SS gene clusters within genomes of this species; two systems appear to be ancient and widespread, whereas the other 2 systems are rare and appear to have been more recently acquired via horizontal gene transfer. In addition, we identified diverse T6SS auxiliary modules containing putative effectors with either known or predicted toxin domains. Many auxiliary modules are possibly horizontally shared between V. parahaemolyticus genomes, since they are flanked by DNA mobility genes. We further investigated a DUF4225-containing protein encoded on an Hcp auxiliary module, and we showed that it is an antibacterial T6SS effector that exerts its toxicity in the bacterial periplasm, leading to cell lysis. Computational analyses of DUF4225 revealed a widespread toxin domain associated with various toxin delivery systems. Taken together, our findings reveal a diverse repertoire of T6SSs and auxiliary modules in the V. parahaemolyticus pan-genome, as well as novel T6SS effectors and toxin domains that can play a major role in the interactions of this species with other cells.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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