T346Hunter: a novel web-based tool for the prediction of type III, type IV and type VI secretion systems in bacterial genomes

PLoS One. 2015 Apr 13;10(4):e0119317. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0119317. eCollection 2015.


T346Hunter (Type Three, Four and Six secretion system Hunter) is a web-based tool for the identification and localisation of type III, type IV and type VI secretion systems (T3SS, T4SS and T6SS, respectively) clusters in bacterial genomes. Non-flagellar T3SS (NF-T3SS) and T6SS are complex molecular machines that deliver effector proteins from bacterial cells into the environment or into other eukaryotic or prokaryotic cells, with significant implications for pathogenesis of the strains encoding them. Meanwhile, T4SS is a more functionally diverse system, which is involved in not only effector translocation but also conjugation and DNA uptake/release. Development of control strategies against bacterial-mediated diseases requires genomic identification of the virulence arsenal of pathogenic bacteria, with T3SS, T4SS and T6SS being major determinants in this regard. Therefore, computational methods for systematic identification of these specialised machines are of particular interest. With the aim of facilitating this task, T346Hunter provides a user-friendly web-based tool for the prediction of T3SS, T4SS and T6SS clusters in newly sequenced bacterial genomes. After inspection of the available scientific literature, we constructed a database of hidden Markov model (HMM) protein profiles and sequences representing the various components of T3SS, T4SS and T6SS. T346Hunter performs searches of such a database against user-supplied bacterial sequences and localises enriched regions in any of these three types of secretion systems. Moreover, through the T346Hunter server, users can visualise the predicted clusters obtained for approximately 1700 bacterial chromosomes and plasmids. T346Hunter offers great help to researchers in advancing their understanding of the biological mechanisms in which these sophisticated molecular machines are involved. T346Hunter is freely available at http://bacterial-virulence-factors.cbgp.upm.es/T346Hunter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Internet*


  • Bacterial Proteins

Grant support

This research has been supported by project grant AGL2011-30343-C02-01 from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Spain (http://www.mineco.gob.es/portal/site/mineco/?lang_choosen=en). PMMG was supported by the Campus de Excelencia Internacional Andalucía Tech (http://www.andaluciatech.org/en). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.