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Free Content Euroconference on the Biology of Type IV Secretion Processes: bacterial gates into the outer world

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Type IV secretion systems (T4SSs) mediate both protein and ssDNA secretion from a wide range of bacteria into virtually any cell type or into the milieu. It is this versatility that confers on them the ability to participate in many processes of bacterial life that imply communication with their environment. Type IV secretion systems are involved in horizontal DNA transfer to other bacteria and to plant cells, in DNA uptake from the milieu, in toxin secretion into the milieu, and in the injection of virulence factors into the eukaryotic host cell in a number of mammalian and plant pathogens. Recently, a EuroConference addressed the different aspects of the biology of these transmembrane multiprotein complexes, from the crystal structure of the individual components to the modification that the secreted substrates induce in the recipient cell. Significant progress has been made in the understanding of the molecular architecture and mechanism of secretion. The analysis of protein–protein interactions confirms the role of coupling proteins as substrate recruiters for the transporter. The VirB10 component of the complex has come up as a strong candidate for signal transducer. The wide range of effects on the recipient suggests that many effector proteins are secreted. New effector proteins are being identified for both plant and animal pathogens, as are their targets within the host cells. New T4SS members are being identified that perform novel roles, beyond DNA transfer and virulence, such as establishment of symbiotic processes. Our current knowledge of the Biology of Type IV Secretion Processes increases our ability to exploit them as biotechnological tools or to use them as new targets for inhibitors that could constitute a new generation of antimicrobials in the near future.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Biología Molecular (Unidad Asociada al CIB-CSIC), Universidad de Cantabria, C. Herrera Oria s/n, 39011 Santander, Spain. 2: INSERM, Faculté de Médecine, Unité 431, Avenue Kennedy, 30900 Nimes, France.

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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