Transcriptional regulators of the GAD acid stress island are carried by effector protein-encoding prophages and indirectly control type III secretion in enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7.
Bacteria use type III secretion systems (TTSS) to translocate effector proteins into host cells. Better understanding of the TTSS and its effectors' functions will require assays to measure their activities in vivo and in real time. We designed a real-time, high-throughput translocation assay that utilizes fusions of effector genes to the beta-lactamase reporter gene, positioned under the effector's native promoter and chromosomal location. Using this assay, we simultaneously and quantitatively analyzed the translocation kinetics of six core enteropathogenic E. coli effectors, EspF, EspG, EspH, EspZ, Map, and Tir. A distinct order in the efficiencies of effector translocation was observed. Translocation efficiency was determined by multiple factors, including the intrabacterial effector concentration, effector-chaperone interactions, the efficiency of bacterial attachment to the host cells, and possibly also by a translocation autoinhibition mechanism. The described real-time translocation assay could be easily adapted for varied applications in the study of bacterial pathogenesis.