The type III secretion system (T3SS) is a complex macromolecular machinery employed by a number of Gram-negative species to initiate infection. Toxins secreted through the system are synthesized in the bacterial cytoplasm and utilize the T3SS to pass through both bacterial membranes and the periplasm, thus being introduced directly into the eukaryotic cytoplasm. A key element of the T3SS of all bacterial pathogens is the translocon, which comprises a pore that is inserted into the membrane of the target cell, allowing toxin injection. Three macromolecular partners associate to form the translocon: two are hydrophobic and one is hydrophilic, and the latter also associates with the T3SS needle. In this review, we discuss recent advances on the biochemical and structural characterization of the proteins involved in translocon formation, as well as their participation in the modification of intracellular signalling pathways upon infection. Models of translocon assembly and regulation are also discussed.
- bacterial infection
- pore formation