Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 37432124
Link to DOI – 10.1128/spectrum.01481-23
Microbiol Spectr 2023 Jul; (): e0148123
Streptococcus gallolyticus subsp. gallolyticus (SGG) is an opportunistic bacterial pathogen strongly associated with colorectal cancer. Here, through comparative genomics analysis, we demonstrated that the genetic locus encoding the type VIIb secretion system (T7SSb) machinery is uniquely present in SGG in two different arrangements. SGG UCN34 carrying the most prevalent T7SSb genetic arrangement was chosen as the reference strain. To identify the effectors secreted by this secretion system, we inactivated the essC gene encoding the motor of this machinery. A comparison of the proteins secreted by UCN34 wild type and its isogenic ΔessC mutant revealed six T7SSb effector proteins, including the expected WXG effector EsxA and three LXG-containing proteins. In this work, we characterized an LXG-family toxin named herein TelE promoting the loss of membrane integrity. Seven homologs of TelE harboring a conserved glycine zipper motif at the C terminus were identified in different SGG isolates. Scanning mutagenesis of this motif showed that the glycine residue at position 470 was crucial for TelE membrane destabilization activity. TelE activity was antagonized by a small protein TipE belonging to the DUF5085 family. Overall, we report herein a unique SGG T7SSb effector exhibiting a toxic activity against nonimmune bacteria. IMPORTANCE In this study, 38 clinical isolates of Streptococcus gallolyticus subsp. gallolyticus (SGG) were sequenced and a genetic locus encoding the type VIIb secretion system (T7SSb) was found conserved and absent from 16 genomes of the closely related S. gallolyticus subsp. pasteurianus (SGP). The T7SSb is a bona fide pathogenicity island. Here, we report that the model organism SGG strain UCN34 secretes six T7SSb effectors. One of the six effectors named TelE displayed a strong toxicity when overexpressed in Escherichia coli. Our results indicate that TelE is probably a pore-forming toxin whose activity can be antagonized by a specific immunity protein named TipE. Overall, we report a unique toxin-immunity protein pair and our data expand the range of effectors secreted through T7SSb.