Human commensal gut Proteobacteria withstand type VI secretion attacks through immunity protein-independent mechanisms

Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 1;12(1):5751. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-26041-0.


While the major virulence factors for Vibrio cholerae, the cause of the devastating diarrheal disease cholera, have been extensively studied, the initial intestinal colonization of the bacterium is not well understood because non-human adult animals are refractory to its colonization. Recent studies suggest the involvement of an interbacterial killing device known as the type VI secretion system (T6SS). Here, we tested the T6SS-dependent interaction of V. cholerae with a selection of human gut commensal isolates. We show that the pathogen efficiently depleted representative genera of the Proteobacteria in vitro, while members of the Enterobacter cloacae complex and several Klebsiella species remained unaffected. We demonstrate that this resistance against T6SS assaults was mediated by the production of superior T6SS machinery or a barrier exerted by group I capsules. Collectively, our data provide new insights into immunity protein-independent T6SS resistance employed by the human microbiota and colonization resistance in general.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Capsules / immunology
  • Bacterial Capsules / metabolism
  • Cholera / immunology
  • Cholera / microbiology*
  • Disease Resistance / immunology
  • Enterobacter cloacae / immunology*
  • Enterobacter cloacae / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Klebsiella / immunology*
  • Klebsiella / metabolism
  • Type VI Secretion Systems / metabolism*
  • Vibrio cholerae / immunology
  • Vibrio cholerae / pathogenicity
  • Virulence Factors / immunology
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism


  • Type VI Secretion Systems
  • Virulence Factors