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      Structural comparison of contractile nanomachines

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          Abstract

          Contractile molecular machines are a common feature among bacteriophages and prokaryotes. Due to their stability and the large size, contractile-tailed bacteriophages are traditionally investigated by electron microscopic methods. Complemented by crystallographic studies, a molecular model of contraction for the T4 phage was developed. Lately, also related contractile structures like the Photorhabdus virulence cassette-like particles, the R-Type pyocins and the contractile tubule of the bacterial Type VI secretion system have been analyzed by cryo electron microscopy. Photorhabdus virulence cassette particles and R-Type pyocins are toxin complexes reminiscent of bacteriophage tails that are secreted by bacteria to kill their insect host or competing bacteria. In contrast, the Type VI secretion system is an intracellular apparatus for injection of effector proteins into bacterial and eukaryotic cells. Although it shares homology with other contractile systems, the Type VI secretion system is additionally equipped with a recycling function, which makes it suitable for multiple rounds of action. Starting from the 3D reconstructions, we compare these molecular machines structurally and functionally to their viral counterparts and summarize the current knowledge on their respective mode of action.

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          Dissecting the bacterial type VI secretion system by a genome wide in silico analysis: what can be learned from available microbial genomic resources?

          Background The availability of hundreds of bacterial genomes allowed a comparative genomic study of the Type VI Secretion System (T6SS), recently discovered as being involved in pathogenesis. By combining comparative and phylogenetic approaches using more than 500 prokaryotic genomes, we characterized the global T6SS genetic structure in terms of conservation, evolution and genomic organization. Results This genome wide analysis allowed the identification of a set of 13 proteins constituting the T6SS protein core and a set of conserved accessory proteins. 176 T6SS loci (encompassing 92 different bacteria) were identified and their comparison revealed that T6SS-encoded genes have a specific conserved genetic organization. Phylogenetic reconstruction based on the core genes showed that lateral transfer of the T6SS is probably its major way of dissemination among pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria. Furthermore, the sequence analysis of the VgrG proteins, proposed to be exported in a T6SS-dependent way, confirmed that some C-terminal regions possess domains showing similarities with adhesins or proteins with enzymatic functions. Conclusion The core of T6SS is composed of 13 proteins, conserved in both pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria. Subclasses of T6SS differ in regulatory and accessory protein content suggesting that T6SS has evolved to adapt to various microenvironments and specialized functions. Based on these results, new functional hypotheses concerning the assembly and function of T6SS proteins are proposed.
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            Morphogenesis of the T4 tail and tail fibers

            Remarkable progress has been made during the past ten years in elucidating the structure of the bacteriophage T4 tail by a combination of three-dimensional image reconstruction from electron micrographs and X-ray crystallography of the components. Partial and complete structures of nine out of twenty tail structural proteins have been determined by X-ray crystallography and have been fitted into the 3D-reconstituted structure of the "extended" tail. The 3D structure of the "contracted" tail was also determined and interpreted in terms of component proteins. Given the pseudo-atomic tail structures both before and after contraction, it is now possible to understand the gross conformational change of the baseplate in terms of the change in the relative positions of the subunit proteins. These studies have explained how the conformational change of the baseplate and contraction of the tail are related to the tail's host cell recognition and membrane penetration function. On the other hand, the baseplate assembly process has been recently reexamined in detail in a precise system involving recombinant proteins (unlike the earlier studies with phage mutants). These experiments showed that the sequential association of the subunits of the baseplate wedge is based on the induced-fit upon association of each subunit. It was also found that, upon association of gp53 (gene product 53), the penultimate subunit of the wedge, six of the wedge intermediates spontaneously associate to form a baseplate-like structure in the absence of the central hub. Structure determination of the rest of the subunits and intermediate complexes and the assembly of the hub still require further study.
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              The Role of the Francisella Tularensis Pathogenicity Island in Type VI Secretion, Intracellular Survival, and Modulation of Host Cell Signaling

              Francisella tularensis is a highly virulent gram-negative intracellular bacterium that causes the zoonotic disease tularemia. Essential for its virulence is the ability to multiply within host cells, in particular monocytic cells. The bacterium has developed intricate means to subvert host immune mechanisms and thereby facilitate its intracellular survival by preventing phagolysosomal fusion followed by escape into the cytosol, where it multiplies. Moreover, it targets and manipulates numerous host cell signaling pathways, thereby ameliorating the otherwise bactericidal capacity. Many of the underlying molecular mechanisms still remain unknown but key elements, directly or indirectly responsible for many of the aforementioned mechanisms, rely on the expression of proteins encoded by the Francisella pathogenicity island (FPI), suggested to constitute a type VI secretion system. We here describe the current knowledge regarding the components of the FPI and the roles that have been ascribed to them.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                AIMS Biophysics
                AIMS Biophysics
                AIMS Press
                2377-9098
                08 May 2015
                : 2
                : 2
                : 88-115
                Affiliations
                [ ] Gene Center Munich, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit?t München, Feodor-Lynen-Strasse 25, D-81377 Munich, Germany
                Author notes
                Petra Wendler, E-mail: wendler@ 123456genzentrum.lmu.de
                Article
                10.3934/biophy.2015.2.88
                cd2dd98e-8685-4c1c-a906-d6bd9e69cb47
                History
                : 24 February 2015
                : 4 May 2015
                Categories
                Review

                Biophysics
                Cryo EM,single-particle,3D reconstruction,phage tail,contractile nano-machine,type VI secretion system,contraction

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