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Section: Application Domains

Prokaryotic Type IV Secretion Systems

Participants : Marie-Dominique Devignes [contact person] , Bernard Maigret, Isaure Chauvot de Beauchêne, David Ritchie.

Prokaryotic type IV secretion systems constitute a fascinating example of a family of nanomachines capable of translocating DNA and protein molecules through the cell membrane from one cell to another [26]. The complete system involves at least 12 proteins. The structure of the core channel involving three of these proteins has recently been determined by cryo-EM experiments [40], [63]. However, the detailed nature of the interactions between the remaining components and those of the core channel remains to be resolved. Therefore, these secretion systems represent another family of complex biological systems (scales 2 and 3) that call for integrated modeling approaches to fully understand their machinery.

In the frame of the Lorraine Université d'Excellence (LUE) “CITRAM” project MD Devignes is pursuing her collaboration with Nathalie Leblond of the Genome Dynamics and Microbial Adaptation (DynAMic) laboratory (UMR 1128, Université de Lorraine, INRA) on the discovery of new integrative conjugative elements (ICEs) and integrative mobilisable elements (IMEs) in prokaryotic genomes. These elements use Type IV secretion systems for transferring DNA horizontally from one cell to another. We have discovered more than 200 new ICEs/IMEs by systematic exploration of 72 Streptococcus genome. As these elements encode all or a subset of the components of the Type IV secretion system, they constitute a valuable source of sequence data and constraints for modeling these systems in 3D. Another interesting aspect of this particular system is that unlike other secretion systems, the Type IV secretion systems are not restricted to a particular group of bacteria [14].