Hyperstructure interactions influence the virulence of the type 3 secretion system in yersiniae and other bacteria
A paradigm shift in our thinking about the intricacies of the host–parasite interaction is required that considers bacterial structures and their relationship to bacterial pathogenesis. It has been proposed that interactions between extended macromolecular assemblies, termed hyperstructures (which include multiprotein complexes), determine bacterial phenotypes. In particular, it has been proposed that hyperstructures can alter virulence. Two such hyperstructures have been characterized in both pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria. Present within a number of both human and plant Gram-negative pathogens is the type 3 secretion system (T3SS) injectisome which in some bacteria serves to inject toxic effector proteins directly into targeted host cells resulting in their paralysis and eventual death (but which in other bacteria prevents the death of the host). The injectisome itself comprises multiple protein subunits, which are all essential for its function. The degradosome is another multiprotein complex thought to be involved in cooperative RNA decay and processing of mRNA transcripts and has been very well characterized in nonpathogenic Escherichia coli. Recently, experimental evidence has suggested that a degradosome exists in the yersiniae as well and that its interactions within the pathogens modulate their virulence. Here, we explore the possibility that certain interactions between hyperstructures, like the T3SS and the degradosome, can ultimately influence the virulence potential of the pathogen based upon the physical locations of hyperstructures within the cell.