Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 26748339
Genome Biology and Evolution
In mycobacteria, various type VII secretion systems corresponding to different ESX (ESAT-6 secretory) types, are contributing to pathogenicity, iron acquisition, and/or conjugation. In addition to the known chromosomal ESX loci, the existence of plasmid-encoded ESX systems was recently reported. To investigate the potential role of ESX-encoding plasmids on mycobacterial evolution we analysed a large representative collection of mycobacterial genomes, including both chromosomal and plasmid-borne sequences. Data obtained for chromosomal ESX loci confirmed the previous 5 classical ESX types and identified a novel mycobacterial ESX-4-like type, termed ESX-4-bis. Moreover, analysis of the plasmid-encoded ESX loci showed extensive diversification, with at least 7 new ESX profiles, identified. Three of them (ESX-P clusters 1, 2 and 3) were found in multiple plasmids, while four corresponded to singletons. Our phylogenetic and gene-order-analyses revealed two main groups of ESX types: i) ancestral types, including ESX-4 and ESX-4-like systems from mycobacterial and non-mycobacterial actinobacteria, and ii) mycobacteria-specific ESX systems, including ESX-1-2-3-5 systems and the plasmid-encoded ESX types. Synteny analysis revealed that ESX-P systems are part of phylogenetic groups that derived from a common ancestor, which diversified and resulted in the different ESX types through extensive gene rearrangements. A converging body of evidence, derived from composition bias-, phylogenetic- and synteny analyses points to a scenario in which ESX-encoding plasmids have been a major driving force for acquisition and diversification of type VII systems in mycobacteria, which likely played (and possibly still play) important roles in the adaptation to new environments and hosts during evolution of mycobacterial pathogenesis.