Yersinia entomophaga Tc toxin is released by T10SS-dependent lysis of specialized cell subpopulations
Sitsel O, Wang Z, Janning P, Kroczek L, Wagner T, Raunser S (2024). Nature Microbiology
Disease-causing bacteria secrete numerous toxins to invade and subjugate their hosts. Unlike many smaller toxins, the secretion machinery of most large toxins remains enigmatic. By combining genomic editing, proteomic profiling and cryo-electron tomography of the insect pathogen Yersinia entomophaga, we demonstrate that a specialized subset of these cells produces a complex toxin cocktail, including the nearly ribosome-sized Tc toxin YenTc, which is subsequently exported by controlled cell lysis using a transcriptionally coupled, pH-dependent type 10 secretion system (T10SS). Our results dissect the Tc toxin export process by a T10SS, identifying that T10SSs operate via a previously unknown lytic mode of action and establishing them as crucial players in the size-insensitive release of cytoplasmically folded toxins. With T10SSs directly embedded in Tc toxin operons of major pathogens, we anticipate that our findings may model an important aspect of pathogenesis in bacteria with substantial impact on agriculture and healthcare.