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Modulation of host cell function by the bacterial type IV secretion process: molecular basis of the translocation and the intracellular effector function of secreted virulence factors

English title Modulation of host cell function by the bacterial type IV secretion process: molecular basis of the translocation and the intracellular effector function of secreted virulence factors
Applicant Dehio Christoph
Number 109925
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Abteilung Mikrobiologie Biozentrum Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Molecular Biology
Start/End 01.10.2005 - 30.09.2010
Approved amount 837'000.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Molecular Biology
Cellular Biology, Cytology
Medical Microbiology

Keywords (5)

bacterial pathogenesis; bacterial virulence; effector protein; protein transfer; DNA transfer

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Type IV secretion (T4S) is a virulence mechanism shared by several unrelated pathogenic bacteria. By studying T4S in Bartonella we anticipate to provide molecular mechanistic insights into this major virulence mechanism. Based on the subversion of vascular endothelial cell functions by the T4S system of Bartonella, we further expect to contribute new knowledge and tools for the field of vascular biology.

The type IV secretion (T4S) systems of gram-negative bacteria mediate the transfer of macromolecular substrates into various target cells, e.g., conjugative DNA transfer into recipient bacteria and intracellular delivery of effector proteins into eukaryotic target cells.Virulence-associated T4S systems are widely distributed among human pathogenic bacteria, including members of the genus Bartonella. These widespread mammalian pathogens typically cause persistent infection of endothelial cells and erythrocytes, which may result in a broad range of clinical manifestations, including fever and hemolytic anemia as the result of erythrocyte invasion, and the formation of vascular tumors due to massive proliferation of endothelial cells. Bartonellae encode two distinct T4S systems which are both essential for pathogenesis. The Trw T4S system is required for erythrocyte infection. In contrast, theVirB/VirD4 T4S system mediates subversion of vascular endothelial cell functions, e.g. in relation to cytoskeleton, inflammation, apoptosis, and proliferation. The latter cellular changes are all dependent on the translocation of seven effector proteins (BepA-BepG). Translocation of these Beps depends on a C-terminal signal, while their N-termini are considered to contribute to effector functions within host cells.

We are studying the Bartonella VirB/VirD4 T4S system and the thereby translocated Bep effector proteins in regard to (i) the molecular interactions of the T4S apparatus with the C-terminal translocation signal of the Beps, and (ii) the effector functions of individual Beps within endothelial cells. We are also testing the suitability of this translocation system for intracellular delivery of heterologous protein and DNA substrates into host cells. In the frame of this project we apply a multidisciplinary approach including bacterial genetics, cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, structural biology, genomics, and animal experimentation. The focus of our studies is the structure/function analysis of the Beps, including an interaction analysis (i) with components of the VirB/VirD4 T4S apparatus during translocation into host cells and (ii) with their cellular targets within host cells, which modulate Bep effector functions.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
61777 Bartonella spp.: Molecular basis of pathogen-host cell inter- action 01.10.2000 Project funding (Div. I-III)
132979 Bacterial Type IV Secretion: Cellular, Molecular, and Evolutionary Basis of the Subversion of Host Cell Functions by Translocated Effector Proteins 01.10.2010 Project funding (Div. I-III)