1932

Abstract

All bacteria must compete for growth niches and other limited environmental resources. These existential battles are waged at several levels, but one common strategy entails the transfer of growth-inhibitory protein toxins between competing cells. These antibacterial effectors are invariably encoded with immunity proteins that protect cells from intoxication by neighboring siblings. Several effector classes have been described, each designed to breach the cell envelope of target bacteria. Although effector architectures and export pathways tend to be clade specific, phylogenetically distant species often deploy closely related toxin domains. Thus, diverse competition systems are linked through a common reservoir of toxin-immunity pairs that is shared via horizontal gene transfer. These toxin-immunity protein pairs are extraordinarily diverse in sequence, and this polymorphism underpins an important mechanism of self/nonself discrimination in bacteria. This review focuses on the structures, functions, and delivery mechanisms of polymorphic toxin effectors that mediate bacterial competition.

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2020-09-08
2024-06-15
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