Among the bacterial secretion systems, the Type III, IV, and VI secretion systems enable bacteria to secrete proteins directly into a target cell. This specific form of secretion, referred to as translocation, is essential for a number of pathogens to alter or kill targeted cells. The translocated proteins, called effector proteins, can directly interfere with the normal processes of the targeted cells, preventing elimination of pathogens and promoting their multiplication. The function of effector proteins varies greatly depending on the considered pathogen and the targeted cell. In addition, there is often no magic bullet, and the number of effector proteins can range from a handful to hundreds, with, for instance, a substrate of over 300 effector proteins of the Icm/Dot Type IV secretion system in the human pathogen Legionella pneumophila. Identifying, detecting, and monitoring the translocation of each of the effector proteins represents an active field of research and is key to understanding the bacterial molecular weaponry. Translational fusion of an effector with a reporter protein of known activity remains the best method to monitor effector translocation. The development of a fluorescent substrate for the TEM-1 beta-lactamase has turned this antibiotic-resistant protein into a highly versatile reporter system for investigating protein transfer events associated with microbial infection of host cells. Here we describe a simple protocol to assay the translocation of an effector protein by the Icm/Dot system of the human pathogen Legionella pneumophila.
Effector protein Type IV secretion system β-lactamase fusion CCF4 Fluorescence Legionella pneumophila
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