The functional spectrum of a secretion system is defined by its substrates. Here we analyzed the secretomes of Pseudomonas aeruginosa mutants altered in regulation of the Hcp Secretion Island-I-encoded type VI secretion system (H1-T6SS). We identified three substrates of this system, proteins Tse1-3 (type six exported 1-3), which are coregulated with the secretory apparatus and secreted under tight posttranslational control. The Tse2 protein was found to be the toxin component of a toxin-immunity system and to arrest the growth of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells when expressed intracellularly. In contrast, secreted Tse2 had no effect on eukaryotic cells; however, it provided a major growth advantage for P. aeruginosa strains, relative to those lacking immunity, in a manner dependent on cell contact and the H1-T6SS. This demonstration that the T6SS targets a toxin to bacteria helps reconcile the structural and evolutionary relationship between the T6SS and the bacteriophage tail and spike.
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