Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Chair in Molecular Microbiology



+44 (0)20 7594 9651a.filloux Website




1.47Flowers buildingSouth Kensington Campus





Publication Type

197 results found

Sarah Wettstadt S, Lai E-M, Filloux AAM, 2020, Solving the puzzle: connecting a heterologous Agrobacterium tumefaciens T6SS effector to a Pseudomonas aeruginosa spike complex, Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, Vol: 10, ISSN: 2235-2988

The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a contractile injection apparatus that translocates a spike loaded with various effectors directly into eukaryotic and prokaryotic target cells. Such T6SS spike consists of a needle-shaped trimer of VgrG proteins topped by a conical and sharp PAAR protein that facilitates puncturing of the target membrane. T6SS-delivered effector proteins can be either fused to one of the two spike proteins or interact with either in a highly specific manner. In Agrobacterium tumefaciens the T6SS effector Tde1 is targeted to its cognate VgrG1 protein. Here, we attempted to use a VgrG shuttle to deliver a heterologous T6SS effector by directing Tde1 onto a T6SS spike in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. For this, we designed chimeras between VgrG1 from A. tumefaciens and VgrG1a from P. aeruginosa and showed that modification of the spike protein hampered T6SS functionality in the presence of the Tde1 effector complex. We provide evidence suggesting that Tde1 specifically binds to the VgrG spike in the heterologous environment and propose that there are additional requirements to allow proper effector delivery and translocation. Our work sheds light on complex aspects of the molecular mechanisms of T6SS delivery and highlights some limitations on how effectors can be translocated using this nanomachine.

Journal article

Larrouy-Maumus G, Dortet L, Filloux A, bonnin, le hello, bonnet, kostrzewaet al., 2020, Detection of colistin resistance in Salmonella enterica using MALDIxin test on the routine MALDI Biotyper Sirius mass spectrometer, Frontiers in Microbiology, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-6, ISSN: 1664-302X

Resistance to polymyxins in most Gram-negative bacteria arises from chemical modifications to the lipid A portion of their lipopolysaccharide (LPS) mediated by chromosomally-encoded mutations or the recently discovered plasmid-encoded mcr genes that have further complicated the landscape of colistin resistance. Currently, minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) determination by broth microdilution, the gold standard for the detection of polymyxin resistance, is time consuming (24 hours) and challenging to perform in clinical and veterinatryveterinary laboratories. Here we present the use of the MALDIxin to detect colistin resistant Salmonella enterica using the MALDxin test on the routine matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) Biotyper Sirius system.

Journal article

Bernal P, Furniss RCD, Fecht S, Leung RCY, Spiga L, Mavridou DAI, Filloux Aet al., 2020, Novel structural components generate distinct type VI secretion system anchoring modes

<jats:title>ABSTRACT</jats:title><jats:p>The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a phage-derived contractile nanomachine primarily involved in interbacterial competition. Its pivotal component, TssA, is indispensable for the assembly of the T6SS sheath structure, the contraction of which propels a payload of effector proteins into neighboring cells. Despite their key function, TssA proteins exhibit unexpected diversity and exist in two major forms, a short (TssA<jats:sub>S</jats:sub>) and a long (TssA<jats:sub>L</jats:sub>) TssA. Whilst TssA<jats:sub>L</jats:sub> proteins interact with a partner, called TagA, to anchor the distal end of the extended sheath, the mechanism for the stabilization of TssA<jats:sub>S</jats:sub>-containing T6SSs remains unknown. Here we discover a novel class of structural components that interact with short TssA proteins and contribute to T6SS assembly by stabilizing the polymerizing sheath from the baseplate. We demonstrate that the presence of these components is important for full sheath extension and optimal firing. Moreover, we show that the pairing of each form of TssA with a different class of sheath stabilization proteins results in T6SS apparatuses that either reside in the cell for a while or fire immediately after sheath extension, thus giving rise to different aggression behaviors. We propose that this functional diversity could contribute to the specialization of the T6SS to suit bacterial lifestyles in diverse environmental niches.</jats:p>

Journal article

Allsopp LP, Bernal P, Nolan LM, Filloux Aet al., 2020, Causalities of war: the connection between type VI secretion system and microbiota, Cellular Microbiology, Vol: 22, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 1462-5814

Microbiota niches have space and/or nutrient restrictions, which has led to the coevolution of cooperation, specialisation, and competition within the population. Different animal and environmental niches contain defined resident microbiota that tend to be stable over time and offer protection against undesired intruders. Yet fluxes can occur, which alter the composition of a bacterial population. In humans, the microbiota are now considered a key contributor to maintenance of health and homeostasis, and its alteration leads to dysbiosis. The bacterial type VI secretion system (T6SS) transports proteins into the environment, directly into host cells or can function as an antibacterial weapon by killing surrounding competitors. Upon contact with neighbouring cells, the T6SS fires, delivering a payload of effector proteins. In the absence of an immunity protein, this results in growth inhibition or death of prey leading to a competitive advantage for the attacker. It is becoming apparent that the T6SS has a role in modulating and shaping the microbiota at multiple levels, which is the focus of this review. Discussed here is the T6SS, its role in competition, key examples of its effect upon the microbiota, and future avenues of research.

Journal article

Wettstadt S, Filloux A, 2020, Manipulating the type VI secretion system spike to shuttle passenger proteins, PLOS ONE, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1932-6203

Journal article

Dortet L, Broda A, bernabeu S, GLUPCZYNSKI Y, bogaerts P, bonnin R, naas T, Filloux A, Larrouy-Maumus Get al., 2020, Optimization of the MALDIxin test for the rapid identification of colistin resistance in Klebsiella pneumoniae using MALDI-TOF-MS, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Vol: 75, Pages: 110-116, ISSN: 0305-7453

Background. With the dissemination of carbapenemase producers, a revival of colistin was observed for the treatment of infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negatives. Unfortunately, the increasing usage of colistin led to the emergence of resistance. In Klebsiella pneumoniae, colistin resistance arises through addition of L-arabinose-4N (L-Ara4N) or phosphoethanolamine (pEtN) on the native lipid A. The underlying mechanisms involve numerous chromosome-encoded genes or the plasmid-encoded phosphoethanolamine transferase MCR. Currently, detection of colistin resistance is time consuming since it still relies on MIC determination by broth microdilution. Recently, a rapid diagnostic test based on MALDI-TOF detection of modified lipid A was developed (the MALDIxin test) and tested on Escherichia coli and Acinetobacter baumannii.Objectives. Optimize the MALDIxin test for the rapid detection of colistin resistance in Klebsiella pneumoniae.Methods. This optimization consists on an additional mild-acid hydrolysis of 15 min in 1% acetic acid. The optimized method was tested on a collection of 81 clinical K. pneumoniae isolates including 49 colistin resistant strains among which 45 correspond to chromosome-encoded resistance, 3 MCR-related resistance and one isolate harbouring both mechanisms.Results. The optimized method allowed the rapid (< 30 min) identification of L-Ara4N and pEtN modified lipid A of K. pneumoniae which are known to be the real triggers of polymyxin resistance. In the same time, it discriminates between chromosome-encoded and MCR-related polymyxin resistance.Conclusions. The MALDIxin test has the potential to become an accurate tool for the rapid diagnostic of colistin resistance in clinically-relevant Gram negative bacteria.

Journal article

Furniss C, Dortet L, Bolland W, drews O, sparbier K, bonnin R, Filloux A, kostrzewa M, Mavridou D, Larrouy-Maumus Get al., 2019, Detection of colistin resistance in Escherichia coli using the MALDI Biotyper Sirius mass spectrometry system, Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Vol: 57, Pages: 1-7, ISSN: 0095-1137

Polymyxin antibiotics are a last-line treatment for multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. However, the emergence of colistin resistance, including the spread of mobile mcr genes, necessitates the development of improved diagnostics for the detection of colistin-resistant organisms in hospital settings. The recently developed MALDIxin test enables detection of colistin resistance by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry in less than 15 minutes, but is not optimized for the mass spectrometers commonly found in clinical microbiology laboratories. In this study, we adapted the MALDIxin test for the MALDI Biotyper Sirius MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry system (Bruker Daltonics). We optimized the sample preparation protocol using a set of 6 MCR-expressing Escherichia coli clones and validated the assay with a collection of 40 E. coli clinical isolates, including 19 confirmed MCR producers, 12 colistin-resistant isolates which tested negative for commonly encountered mcr genes (i.e. likely chromosomally-resistant isolates) and 9 polymyxin-susceptible isolates. We calculated Polymyxin resistance ratio (PRR) values from the acquired spectra; a PRR value of zero, indicating polymyxin susceptibility, was obtained for all colistin-susceptible E. coli isolates, whereas positive PRR values, indicating resistance to polymyxins, were obtained for all resistant strains independent of the genetic basis of resistance. Thus, we report a preliminary feasibility study showing that an optimized version of the MALDIxin test, adapted for the routine MALDI Biotyper Sirius, provides an unbiased, fast, reliable, cost-effective and high-throughput way of detecting colistin resistance in clinical E. coli isolates.

Journal article


Conference paper

Wood TE, Howard SA, Forster A, Nolan LM, Manoli E, Bullen NP, Yau HCL, Hachani A, Hayward RD, Whitney JC, Vollmer W, Freemont PS, Filloux Aet al., 2019, The Pseudomonas aeruginosa T6SS delivers a periplasmic toxin that disrupts bacterial cell morphology, Cell Reports, Vol: 29, Pages: 187-201.e7, ISSN: 2211-1247

The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is crucialin interbacterial competition and is avirulence determinant ofmany Gram-negative bacteria. Several T6SS effectorsarecovalently fused to secreted T6SS structural components such asthe VgrG spike for delivery into target cells.In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, theVgrG2b effector waspreviously proposedto mediatebacterial internalisation into eukaryotic cells. In this work, wefind that the VgrG2b C-terminal domain(VgrG2bC-ter) elicits toxicity in the bacterial periplasm, counteracted by a cognate immunity protein.We resolve thestructure of VgrG2bC-ter and confirm it is a member ofthezinc-metallopeptidasefamily of enzymes. We show that this effector causesmembrane blebbing atmidcell, whichsuggests a distincttype of T6SS-mediated growthinhibition through interference with cell division, mimicking the impact of β-lactam antibiotics. Ourstudyintroduces a further effector family to the T6SS arsenaland demonstrates that VgrG2b can target both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

Journal article

Cain AK, Nolan LM, Sullivan GJ, Whitchurch CB, Filloux A, Parkhill Jet al., 2019, Complete genome sequence of pseudomonas aeruginosa reference strain PAK, Microbiology Resource Announcements, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2576-098X

We report the complete genome of Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain PAK, a strain which has been instrumental in the study of a range of P. aeruginosa virulence and pathogenesis factors and has been used for over 50 years as a laboratory reference strain.

Journal article

Howard SA, Filloux A, 2019, BACTERIAL PROTEIN SECRETION Looking inside an injection system, ELIFE, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2050-084X

Journal article

Fuqua C, Filloux A, Ghigo J-M, Visick KLet al., 2019, Biofilms 2018: a diversity of microbes and mechanisms, Journal of Bacteriology, Vol: 201, Pages: e00118-e00119, ISSN: 0021-9193

The 8th ASM Conference on Biofilms was held in Washington D.C. on October 7-11, 2018. This very highly subscribed meeting represented a wide breadth of current research in biofilms, and included over 500 attendees, 12 sessions with 64 oral presentations, and four poster sessions with about 400 posters.

Journal article

Wood TE, Howard SA, Wettstadt S, Filloux Aet al., 2019, PAAR proteins act as the ‘sorting hat’ of the type VI secretion system, Microbiology, Vol: 165, Pages: 1203-1218, ISSN: 1350-0872

Bacteria exist in polymicrobial environments and compete to prevail in a niche. The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a nanomachine employed by Gram-negative bacteria to deliver effector proteins into target cells. Consequently, T6SS-positive bacteria produce a wealth of antibacterial effector proteins to promote their survival among a prokaryotic community. These toxins are loaded onto the VgrG–PAAR spike and Hcp tube of the T6SS apparatus and recent work has started to document the specificity of effectors for certain spike components. Pseudomonas aeruginosa encodes several PAAR proteins, whose roles have been poorly investigated. Here we describe a phospholipase family antibacterial effector immunity pair from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and demonstrate that a specific PAAR protein is necessary for the delivery of the effector and its cognate VgrG. Furthermore, the PAAR protein appears to restrict the delivery of other phospholipase effectors that utilise distinct VgrG proteins. We provide further evidence for competition for PAAR protein recruitment to the T6SS apparatus, which determines the identities of the delivered effectors.

Journal article

McCarthy RR, Yu M, Eilers K, Wang Y-C, Lai E-M, Filloux Aet al., 2019, Cyclic di-GMP inactivates T6SS and T4SS activity in Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Molecular Microbiology, Vol: 112, Pages: 632-648, ISSN: 0950-382X

The Type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a bacterial nanomachine that delivers effector proteins into prokaryotic and eukaryotic preys. This secretion system has emerged as a key player in regulating the microbial diversity in a population. In the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens, the signalling cascades regulating the activity of this secretion system are poorly understood. Here, we outline how the universal eubacterial second messenger cyclic di-GMP impacts the production of T6SS toxins and T6SS structural components. We demonstrate that this has a significant impact on the ability of the phytopathogen to compete with other bacterial species in vitro and in planta. Our results suggest that, as opposed to other bacteria, c-di-GMP turns down the T6SS in A. tumefaciens thus impacting its ability to compete with other bacterial species within the rhizosphere. We also demonstrate that elevated levels of c-di-GMP within the cell decrease the activity of the Type IV secretion system (T4SS) and subsequently the capacity of A. tumefaciens to transform plant cells. We propose that such peculiar control reflects on c-di-GMP being a key second messenger that silences energy-costing systems during early colonization phase and biofilm formation, while low c-di-GMP levels unleash T6SS and T4SS to advance plant colonization.

Journal article

Wettstadt S, Wood TE, Fecht S, Filloux Aet al., 2019, Delivery of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa phospholipase effectors PldA and PldB in a VgrG- and H2-T6SS-dependent manner, Frontiers in Microbiology, Vol: 10, Pages: 1-18, ISSN: 1664-302X

The bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses three type VI secretion systems (T6SSs) to drive a multitude of effector proteins into eukaryotic or prokaryotic target cells. The T6SS is a supramolecular nanomachine, involving a set of 13 core proteins, which resembles the contractile tail of bacteriophages and whose tip is considered as a puncturing device helping to cross membranes. Effectors can attach directly to the T6SS spike which is composed of a VgrG (valine-glycine-rich proteins) trimer, of which P. aeruginosa produces several. We have previously shown that the master regulator RsmA controls the expression of all three T6SS gene clusters (H1-, H2- and H3-T6SS) and a range of remote vgrG and effector genes. We also demonstrated that specific interactions between VgrGs and various T6SS effectors are prerequisite for effector delivery in a process we called “à la carte delivery”. Here, we provide an in-depth description on how the two H2-T6SS-dependent effectors PldA and PldB are delivered via their cognate VgrGs, VgrG4b and VgrG5, respectively. We show that specific recognition of the VgrG C terminus is required and effector specificity can be swapped by exchanging these C-terminal domains. Importantly, we established that effector recognition by a cognate VgrG is not always sufficient to achieve successful secretion, but it is crucial to provide effector stability. This study highlights the complexity of effector adaptation to the T6SS nanomachine and shows how the VgrG tip can possibly be manipulated to achieve effector delivery.

Journal article

Filloux A, Davies JC, 2019, Chronic infection by controlling inflammation, NATURE MICROBIOLOGY, Vol: 4, Pages: 378-379, ISSN: 2058-5276

Journal article

Lorenz A, Preusse M, Bruchmann S, Pawar V, Grahl N, Pils MC, Nolan LM, Filloux A, Weiss S, Haeussler Set al., 2019, Importance of flagella in acute and chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, Environmental Microbiology, Vol: 21, Pages: 883-897, ISSN: 1462-2912

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an environmental microorganism and a causative agent of diverse acute and chronic, biofilm‐associated infections. Advancing research‐based knowledge on its adaptation to conditions within the human host is bound to reveal novel strategies and targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we investigated the traits that P. aeruginosa PA14 as well as a virulence attenuated ΔlasR mutant need to survive in selected murine infection models. Experimentally, the genetic programs that the bacteria use to adapt to biofilm‐associated versus acute infections were dissected by passaging transposon mutant libraries through mouse lungs (acute) or mouse tumours (biofilm‐infection). Adaptive metabolic changes of P. aeruginosa were generally required during both infection processes. Counter‐selection against flagella expression was observed during acute lung infections. Obviously, avoidance of flagella‐mediated activation of host immunity is advantageous for the wildtype bacteria. For the ΔlasR mutant, loss of flagella did not confer a selective advantage. Apparently, other pathogenesis mechanisms are active in this virulence attenuated strain. In contrast, the infective process of P. aeruginosa in the chronic biofilm model apparently required expression of flagellin. Together, our findings imply that the host immune reactions against the infectious agent are very decisive for acuteness and duration of the infectious disease. They direct disease outcome.

Journal article

Valentini M, Filloux A, 2019, Multiple Roles of c-di-GMP Signaling in Bacterial Pathogenesis, ANNUAL REVIEW OF MICROBIOLOGY, VOL 73, Vol: 73, Pages: 387-+, ISSN: 0066-4227

Journal article

Pissaridou P, Allsopp LP, Wettstadt S, Howard SA, Mavridou DAI, Filloux Aet al., 2018, The Pseudomonas aeruginosa T6SS-VgrG1b spike is topped by a PAAR protein eliciting DNA damage to bacterial competitors, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol: 115, Pages: 12519-12524, ISSN: 0027-8424

The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a supramolecular complex involved in the delivery of potent toxins during bacterial competition. Pseudomonas aeruginosa possesses three T6SS gene clusters and several hcp and vgrG gene islands, the latter encoding the spike at the T6SS tip. The vgrG1b cluster encompasses seven genes whose organization and sequences are highly conserved in P. aeruginosa genomes, except for two genes that we called tse7 and tsi7. We show that Tse7 is a Tox-GHH2 domain nuclease which is distinct from other T6SS nucleases identified thus far. Expression of this toxin induces the SOS response, causes growth arrest and ultimately results in DNA degradation. The cytotoxic domain of Tse7 lies at its C terminus, while the N terminus is a predicted PAAR domain. We find that Tse7 sits on the tip of the VgrG1b spike and that specific residues at the PAAR–VgrG1b interface are essential for VgrG1b-dependent delivery of Tse7 into bacterial prey. We also show that the delivery of Tse7 is dependent on the H1-T6SS cluster, and injection of the nuclease into bacterial competitors is deployed for interbacterial competition. Tsi7, the cognate immunity protein, protects the producer from the deleterious effect of Tse7 through a direct protein–protein interaction so specific that toxin/immunity pairs are effective only if they originate from the same P. aeruginosa isolate. Overall, our study highlights the diversity of T6SS effectors, the exquisite fitting of toxins on the tip of the T6SS, and the specificity in Tsi7-dependent protection, suggesting a role in interstrain competition.

Journal article

Dortet L, Bonnin RA, Pennisi I, Gauthier L, Jousset AB, Dabos L, Furniss RCD, Mavridou DAI, Bogaerts P, Glupczynski Y, Potron A, Plesiat P, Beyrouthy R, Robin F, Bonnet R, Naas T, Filloux A, Larrouy-Maumus Get al., 2018, Rapid detection and discrimination of chromosome-and MCR-plasmid-mediated resistance to polymyxins by MALDI-TOF MS in Escherichia coli: the MALDIxin test, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Vol: 73, Pages: 3359-3367, ISSN: 0305-7453

BackgroundPolymyxins are currently considered a last-resort treatment for infections caused by MDR Gram-negative bacteria. Recently, the emergence of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae has accelerated the use of polymyxins in the clinic, resulting in an increase in polymyxin-resistant bacteria. Polymyxin resistance arises through modification of lipid A, such as the addition of phosphoethanolamine (pETN). The underlying mechanisms involve numerous chromosome-encoded genes or, more worryingly, a plasmid-encoded pETN transferase named MCR. Currently, detection of polymyxin resistance is difficult and time consuming.ObjectivesTo develop a rapid diagnostic test that can identify polymyxin resistance and at the same time differentiate between chromosome- and plasmid-encoded resistances.MethodsWe developed a MALDI-TOF MS-based method, named the MALDIxin test, which allows the detection of polymyxin resistance-related modifications to lipid A (i.e. pETN addition), on intact bacteria, in <15 min.ResultsUsing a characterized collection of polymyxin-susceptible and -resistant Escherichia coli, we demonstrated that our method is able to identify polymyxin-resistant isolates in 15 min whilst simultaneously discriminating between chromosome- and plasmid-encoded resistance. We validated the MALDIxin test on different media, using fresh and aged colonies and show that it successfully detects all MCR-1 producers in a blindly analysed set of carbapenemase-producing E. coli strains.ConclusionsThe MALDIxin test is an accurate, rapid, cost-effective and scalable method that represents a major advance in the diagnosis of polymyxin resistance by directly assessing lipid A modifications in intact bacteria.

Journal article

Dortet L, Potron A, Bonnin RA, Plesiat P, Naas T, Filloux A, Larrouy-Maumus Get al., 2018, Rapid detection of colistin resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii using MALDI-TOF-based lipidomics on intact bacteria, Scientific Reports, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2045-2322

With the dissemination of extremely drug resistant bacteria, colistin is now considered as the last-resort therapy for the treatment of infection caused by Gram-negative bacilli (including carbapenemase producers). Unfortunately, the increase use of colistin has resulted in the emergence of resistance as well. In A. baumannii, colistin resistance is mostly caused by the addition of phosphoethanolamine to the lipid A through the action of a phosphoethanolamine transferase chromosomally-encoded by the pmrC gene, which is regulated by the two-component system PmrA/PmrB. In A. baumannii clinical isolate the main resistance mechanism to colistin involves mutations in pmrA, pmrB or pmrC genes leading to the overexpression of pmrC. Although, rapid detection of resistance is one of the key issues to improve the treatment of infected patient, detection of colistin resistance in A. baumannii still relies on MIC determination through microdilution, which is time-consuming (16–24 h). Here, we evaluated the performance of a recently described MALDI-TOF-based assay, the MALDIxin test, which allows the rapid detection of colistin resistance-related modifications to lipid A (i.e phosphoethanolamine addition). This test accurately detected all colistin-resistant A. baumannii isolates in less than 15 minutes, directly on intact bacteria with a very limited sample preparation prior MALDI-TOF analysis.

Journal article

Nolan LM, Whitchurch CB, Barquist L, Katrib M, Boinett CJ, Mayho M, Goulding D, Charles IG, Filloux A, Parkhill J, Cain AKet al., 2018, A global genomic approach uncovers novel components for twitching motility-mediated biofilm expansion in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Microbial Genomics, Vol: 4, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 2057-5858

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an extremely successful pathogen able to cause both acute and chronic infections in a range of hosts, utilizing a diverse arsenal of cell-associated and secreted virulence factors. A major cell-associated virulence factor, the Type IV pilus (T4P), is required for epithelial cell adherence and mediates a form of surface translocation termed twitching motility, which is necessary to establish a mature biofilm and actively expand these biofilms. P. aeruginosa twitching motility-mediated biofilm expansion is a coordinated, multicellular behaviour, allowing cells to rapidly colonize surfaces, including implanted medical devices. Although at least 44 proteins are known to be involved in the biogenesis, assembly and regulation of the T4P, with additional regulatory components and pathways implicated, it is unclear how these components and pathways interact to control these processes. In the current study, we used a global genomics-based random-mutagenesis technique, transposon directed insertion-site sequencing (TraDIS), coupled with a physical segregation approach, to identify all genes implicated in twitching motility-mediated biofilm expansion in P. aeruginosa. Our approach allowed identification of both known and novel genes, providing new insight into the complex molecular network that regulates this process in P. aeruginosa. Additionally, our data suggest that the flagellum-associated gene products have a differential effect on twitching motility, based on whether components are intra- or extracellular. Overall the success of our TraDIS approach supports the use of this global genomic technique for investigating virulence genes in bacterial pathogens.

Journal article

Boulant T, Boudehenr Y-M, Filloux A, Plesiat P, Naas T, Dortet Let al., 2018, Higher prevalence of PIdA, pseudomonas aeruginosa trans-kingdom H2-type VI secretion system effector, in clinical isolates responsible for acute infections and in multidrug resistant strains, Frontiers in Microbiology, Vol: 9, ISSN: 1664-302X

Pseudomonas aeruginosa can manipulate eukaryotic host cells using secreted effectors delivered by the type III or the type VI Secretion Systems (T3SS and T6SS). The T3SS allows the injection of bacterial effectors (Exo toxins) into eukaryotic cell. P. aeruginosa, encodes three T6SSs, H1-, H2- and H3-T6SS. The H1-T6SS is mainly involved in delivering toxins to kill bacterial competitors. Recently, two T6SS-secreted phospholipases D, PldA (H2-T6SS) and PldB (H3-T6SS), were identified as trans-kingdom virulence effectors, triggering both killing of bacterial competitors and internalization into non-phagocytic cells. We deciphered the prevalence of T3SS and T6SS effectors encoding genes in 185 clinical isolates responsible for infections (septicaemia, pulmonary infections, urinary tract infections, and chronic infections in CF patients), 47 environmental strains, and on 33 carbapenemase-producers. We included 107 complete genomes of P. aeruginosa available in public databases. The prevalence of pldA is increased in clinical isolates responsible for severe acute infection and particularly in multi-drug resistant strains. In contrast, the pldB prevalence was high (96.8%) in all isolates. Regarding T3SS effectors, exoT and exoY are present in nearly all isolates while exoS and exoU were found to be exclusive with a higher prevalence of exoU+ strains in severe acute infections. The hypervirulent exoU+ isolates are more prone to be pldA+, suggesting a role of PldA in virulence. Finally, we observed that extremely drug resistant isolates producing an IMP-type carbapenemase were all pldA+. Our results suggest that PldA might have a role during pulmonary infections and have been co-selected in multidrug resistant strains particularly IMP-producers.

Journal article

Filloux A, Larrouy-Maumus G, Dortet L, 2018, Method of detection: Use of Lipid A and its modifications as a direct detection of antimicrobials resistance, WO2018158573

The present invention is directed to a method for detecting the presence or absence of a bacterium resistant to a cyclic cationic polypeptide antibiotic, comprising: (a) subjecting a test sample to mass spectrometry analysis and generating a mass spectrum output; wherein said test sample comprises a bacterial membrane or a fragment thereof, wherein the fragment comprises a non- Lipid A component; (b) identifying in said mass spectrum output a first defined peak indicative of the presence of Lipid A modified by phosphoethanolamine, wherein said first defined peak is a peak present in a mass spectrum output for Lipid A modified by phosphoethanolamine and wherein said first defined peak is absent from a corresponding mass spectrum output for native Lipid A; and (c) wherein the presence of said first defined peak indicates the presence of a bacterium resistant to a cyclic cationic polypeptide antibiotic, and wherein the absence of said first defined peak indicates the absence of a bacterium resistant to a cyclic cationic polypeptide antibiotic. This method is also used in a screening method to identify an inhibitor of cyclic cationic polypeptide antibiotic resistance in a bacterium. The matrix solution can contain 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid and aids in the selective extraction, co-crystallisation and ionisation of native Lipid A and/or modified Lipid A as an integral part of a bacterial membrane.


Willis A, Lo Celso C, Filloux A, Torraca V, Mazon Moya M, Castro Gomes M, Shelley J, Mostowy Set al., 2018, Shigella-induced emergency granulopoiesis protects zebrafish larvae from secondary infection, mBio, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2150-7511

Emergency granulopoiesis is a hematopoietic program of stem cell-driven neutrophil production used to counteract immune cell exhaustion following infection. Shigella flexneri is a Gram-negative enteroinvasive pathogen controlled by neutrophils. In this study, we use a Shigella-zebrafish (Danio rerio) infection model to investigate emergency granulopoiesis in vivo. We show that stem cell-driven neutrophil production occurs in response to Shigella infection and requires macrophage-independent signaling by granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (Gcsf). To test whether emergency granulopoiesis can function beyond homoeostasis to enhance innate immunity, we developed a reinfection assay using zebrafish larvae that have not yet developed an adaptive immune system. Strikingly, larvae primed with a sublethal dose of Shigella are protected against a secondary lethal dose of Shigella in a type III secretion system (T3SS)-dependent manner. Collectively, these results highlight a new role for emergency granulopoiesis in boosting host defense and demonstrate that zebrafish larvae can be a valuable in vivo model to investigate innate immune memory.IMPORTANCE Shigella is an important human pathogen of the gut. Emergency granulopoiesis is the enhanced production of neutrophils by hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) upon infection and is widely considered a homoeostatic mechanism for replacing exhausted leukocytes. In this study, we developed a Shigella-zebrafish infection model to investigate stem cell-driven emergency granulopoiesis. We discovered that zebrafish initiate granulopoiesis in response to Shigella infection, via macrophage-independent signaling of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (Gcsf). Strikingly, larvae primed with a sublethal dose of Shigella are protected against a secondary lethal dose of Shigella in a type III secretion system (T3SS)-dependent manner. Taken together, we show that zebrafish infection can be used to capture Shigella-mediated stem c

Journal article

Lin J-S, Pissaridou P, Wu H-H, Tsai M-D, Filloux A, Lai E-Met al., 2018, TagF-mediated repression of bacterial type VI secretion systems involves a direct interaction with the cytoplasmic protein Fha, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol: 293, Pages: 8829-8842, ISSN: 0021-9258

The bacterial type VI secretion system (T6SS) delivers effectors into eukaryotic host cells or toxins into bacterial competitor for survival and fitness. The T6SS is positively regulated by the threonine phosphorylation pathway (TPP) and negatively by the T6SS-accessory protein TagF. Here, we studied the mechanisms underlying TagF-mediated T6SS repression in two distinct bacterial pathogens, Agrobacterium tumefaciens and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We found that in A. tumefaciens, T6SS toxin secretion and T6SS-dependent antibacterial activity are suppressed by a two-domain chimeric protein consisting of TagF and PppA, a putative phosphatase. Remarkably, this TagF domain is sufficient to post-translationally repress the T6SS, and this inhibition is independent of TPP. This repression requires interaction with a cytoplasmic protein, Fha, critical for activating T6SS assembly. In P. aeruginosa, PppA and TagF are two distinct proteins that repress T6SS in a TPP-dependent and -independent pathways, respectively. P. aeruginosa TagF interacts with Fha1, suggesting that formation of this complex represents a conserved TagF-mediated regulatory mechanism. Using TagF variants with substitutions of conserved amino acid residues at predicted protein-protein interaction interfaces, we uncovered evidence that the TagF-Fha interaction is critical for TagF-mediated T6SS repression in both bacteria. TagF inhibits T6SS without affecting T6SS protein abundance in A. tumefaciens, but TagF overexpression reduces the protein levels of all analyzed T6SS components in P. aeruginosa. Our results indicate that TagF interacts with Fha, which in turn could impact different stages of T6SS assembly in different bacteria, possibly reflecting an evolutionary divergence in T6SS control.

Journal article

Dortet L, Lombardi C, Cretin F, Dessen A, Filloux Aet al., 2018, Pore-forming activity of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa type III secretion system translocon alters the host epigenome, Nature Microbiology, Vol: 3, Pages: 378-386, ISSN: 2058-5276

Recent studies highlight that bacterial pathogens can reprogram target cells by influencing epigenetic factors. The type III secretion system (T3SS) is a bacterial nanomachine that resembles a syringe on the bacterial surface. The T3SS ‘needle’ delivers translocon proteins into eukaryotic cell membranes, subsequently allowing injection of bacterial effectors into the cytosol. Here we show that Pseudomonas aeruginosa induces early T3SS-dependent dephosphorylation and deacetylation of histone H3 in eukaryotic cells. This is not triggered by any of the P. aeruginosa T3SS effectors, but results from the insertion of the PopB–PopD translocon into the membrane. This suggests that the P. aeruginosa translocon is a genuine T3SS effector acting as a pore-forming toxin. We visualized the translocon plugged into the host cell membrane after the bacterium has left the site of contact, and demonstrate that subsequent ion exchange through this pore is responsible for histone H3 modifications and host cell subversion.

Journal article

Filloux A, Voulhoux R, 2018, Multiple structures disclose the secretins' secrets, Journal of Bacteriology, Vol: 200, ISSN: 0021-9193

Bacterial secretins are outer membrane proteins that provide a path for secreted proteins to access the cell exterior/surface. They are one of the core components of secretion machines and are found in type II and type III secretion systems (T2SS and T3SS, respectively). The secretins comprise giant ring-shaped homo-oligomers whose precise atomic organization was only recently deciphered thanks to spectacular developments in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) imaging techniques.

Journal article

Bernal P, Llamas MA, Filloux A, 2018, Type VI secretion systems in plant-associated bacteria, Environmental Microbiology, Vol: 20, Pages: 1-15, ISSN: 1462-2912

The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a bacterial nanomachine used to inject effectors into prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells and is thus involved in both host manipulation and interbacterial competition. The T6SS is widespread among Gram‐negative bacteria, mostly within the Proteobacterium Phylum. This secretion system is commonly found in commensal and pathogenic plant‐associated bacteria. Phylogenetic analysis of phytobacterial T6SS clusters shows that they are distributed in the five main clades previously described (group 1–5). The even distribution of the system among commensal and pathogenic phytobacteria suggests that the T6SS provides fitness and colonization advantages in planta and that the role of the T6SS is not restricted to virulence. This manuscript reviews the phylogeny and biological roles of the T6SS in plant‐associated bacteria, highlighting a remarkable diversity both in terms of mechanism and function.

Journal article

Freemont PS, Salih O, He S, Planamente S, Stach L, MacDonald J, Manoli E, Scheres S, Filloux Aet al., 2018, Atomic Structure of Type VI Contractile Sheath from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Structure, Vol: 26, Pages: 329-336.e3, ISSN: 0969-2126

Pseudomonas aeruginosa has three type VI secretion systems (T6SSs), H1-, H2-, and H3-T6SS, each belonging to a distinct group. The two T6SS components, TssB/VipA and TssC/VipB, assemble to form tubules that conserve structural/functional homology with tail sheaths of contractile bacteriophages and pyocins. Here, we used cryoelectron microscopy to solve the structure of the H1-T6SS P. aeruginosa TssB1C1 sheath at 3.3 Å resolution. Our structure allowed us to resolve some features of the T6SS sheath that were not resolved in the Vibrio cholerae VipAB and Francisella tularensis IglAB structures. Comparison with sheath structures from other contractile machines, including T4 phage and R-type pyocins, provides a better understanding of how these systems have conserved similar functions/mechanisms despite evolution. We used the P. aeruginosa R2 pyocin as a structural template to build an atomic model of the TssB1C1 sheath in its extended conformation, allowing us to propose a coiled-spring-like mechanism for T6SS sheath contraction.

Journal article

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