Vibrio spp. are associated with infections caused by contaminated food and water. A type III secretion system (T3SS2) is a shared feature of all clinical isolates of V. parahaemolyticus and some V. cholerae strains. Despite its being responsible for enterotoxicity, no molecular mechanism has been determined for the T3SS2-dependent pathogenicity. Here, we show that although Vibrio spp. are typically thought of as extracellular pathogens, the T3SS2 of Vibrio mediates host cell invasion, vacuole formation, and replication of intracellular bacteria. The catalytically active effector VopC is critical for Vibrio T3SS2-mediated invasion. There are other marine bacteria encoding VopC homologs associated with a T3SS; therefore, we predict that these bacteria are also likely to use T3SS-mediated invasion as part of their pathogenesis mechanisms. These findings suggest a new molecular paradigm for Vibrio pathogenicity and modify our view of the roles of T3SS effectors that are translocated during infection.
Copyright © 2012 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.