Genomic analysis of the type VI secretion systems in Pseudomonas spp.: novel clusters and putative effectors uncovered

Microbiology (Reading). 2011 Jun;157(Pt 6):1726-1739. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.048645-0. Epub 2011 Apr 7.


Bacteria encode multiple protein secretion systems that are crucial for interaction with the environment and with hosts. In recent years, attention has focused on type VI secretion systems (T6SSs), which are specialized transporters widely encoded in Proteobacteria. The myriad of processes associated with these secretion systems could be explained by subclasses of T6SS, each involved in specialized functions. To assess diversity and predict function associated with different T6SSs, comparative genomic analysis of 34 Pseudomonas genomes was performed. This identified 70 T6SSs, with at least one locus in every strain, except for Pseudomonas stutzeri A1501. By comparing 11 core genes of the T6SS, it was possible to identify five main Pseudomonas phylogenetic clusters, with strains typically carrying T6SSs from more than one clade. In addition, most strains encode additional vgrG and hcp genes, which encode extracellular structural components of the secretion apparatus. Using a combination of phylogenetic and meta-analysis of transcriptome datasets it was possible to associate specific subsets of VgrG and Hcp proteins with each Pseudomonas T6SS clade. Moreover, a closer examination of the genomic context of vgrG genes in multiple strains highlights a number of additional genes associated with these regions. It is proposed that these genes may play a role in secretion or alternatively could be new T6S effectors.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Secretion Systems / genetics*
  • Bacterial Secretion Systems / physiology
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genome, Bacterial / genetics
  • Genomics*
  • Multigene Family
  • Phylogeny*
  • Pseudomonas / classification
  • Pseudomonas / genetics*
  • Pseudomonas / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Secretion Systems