Antagonism toward the intestinal microbiota and its effect on Vibrio cholerae virulence

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  12 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6372, pp. 210-213
DOI: 10.1126/science.aap8775

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Cholera pathogen zaps competition

Many bacterial pathogens inject their hosts with virulence effectors delivered by specialist secretion machines. Vibrio cholerae has a type VI secretion system (T6SS) that can be loaded with protein toxins that target eukaryote host cells or kill competing bacteria. Zhao et al. discovered that mutant V. cholerae lacking a T6SS could not compete against Escherichia coli strains in the mouse gut. In contrast, intact V. cholerae readily gained a foothold in the gut of young mice, pumping up inflammatory immune responses and prompting more violent symptoms.

Science, this issue p. 210


The bacterial type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a nanomachine that delivers toxic effector proteins into target cells, killing them. In mice, we found that the Vibrio cholerae T6SS attacks members of the host commensal microbiota in vivo, facilitating the pathogen’s colonization of the gut. This microbial antagonistic interaction drives measurable changes in the pathogenicity of V. cholerae through enhanced intestinal colonization, expression of bacterial virulence genes, and activation of host innate immune genes. Because ablation of mouse commensals by this enteric pathogen correlated with more severe diarrheal symptoms, we conclude that antagonism toward the gut microbiota could improve the fitness of V. cholerae as a pathogen by elevating its transmission to new susceptible hosts.

View Full Text