Type VI secretion system effectors: poisons with a purpose

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2014 Feb;12(2):137-48. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3185. Epub 2014 Jan 2.


The type VI secretion system (T6SS) mediates interactions between a broad range of Gram-negative bacterial species. Recent studies have led to a substantial increase in the number of characterized T6SS effector proteins and a more complete and nuanced view of the adaptive importance of the system. Although the T6SS is most often implicated in antagonism, in this Review, we consider the case for its involvement in both antagonistic and non-antagonistic behaviours. Clarifying the roles that type VI secretion has in microbial communities will contribute to broader efforts to understand the importance of microbial interactions in maintaining human and environmental health, and will inform efforts to manipulate these interactions for therapeutic or environmental benefit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Secretion Systems*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microbial Interactions*
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Secretion Systems
  • Virulence Factors