Apr 11, 2020

Host Adaptation Predisposes Pseudomonas aeruginosa to Type VI Secretion System-Mediated Predation by the Burkholderia cepacia Complex

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
A. I. PeraultPeggy A Cotter


Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa) and Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) species are opportunistic lung pathogens of individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). While Pa can initiate long-term infections in younger CF patients, Bcc infections only arise in teenagers and adults. Both Pa and Bcc use type VI secretion systems (T6SS) to mediate interbacterial competition. Here, we show that Pa isolates from teenage/adult CF patients, but not those from young CF patients, are outcompeted by the epidemic Bcc isolate Burkholderia cenocepacia strain AU1054 (BcAU1054) in a T6SS-dependent manner. The genomes of susceptible Pa isolates harbor T6SS-abrogating mutations, the repair of which, in some cases, rendered the isolates resistant. Moreover, seven of eight Bcc strains outcompeted Pa strains isolated from the same patients. Our findings suggest that certain mutations that arise as Pa adapts to the CF lung abrogate T6SS activity, making Pa and its human host susceptible to potentially fatal Bcc superinfection.

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