Promoter swapping unveils the role of the Citrobacter rodentium CTS1 type VI secretion system in interbacterial competition

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Jan;79(1):32-8. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02504-12. Epub 2012 Oct 12.


The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a versatile secretion machine dedicated to various functions in Gram-negative bacteria, including virulence toward eukaryotic cells and antibacterial activity. Activity of T6SS might be followed in vitro by the release of two proteins, Hcp and VgrG, in the culture supernatant. Citrobacter rodentium, a rodent pathogen, harbors two T6SS gene clusters, cts1 and cts2. Reporter fusion and Hcp release assays suggested that the CTS1 T6SS was not produced or not active. The cts1 locus is composed of two divergent operons. We therefore developed a new vector allowing us to swap the two divergent endogenous promoters by P(tac) and P(BAD) using the λ red recombination technology. Artificial induction of both promoters demonstrated that the CTS1 T6SS is functional as shown by the Hcp release assay and confers on C. rodentium a growth advantage in antibacterial competition experiments with Escherichia coli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibiosis*
  • Bacterial Secretion Systems / genetics*
  • Citrobacter rodentium / genetics
  • Citrobacter rodentium / growth & development
  • Citrobacter rodentium / physiology*
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Recombination, Genetic


  • Bacterial Secretion Systems
  • Membrane Transport Proteins