Bacteria have developed several strategies to communicate and compete with one another in complex environments. One important mechanism of inter-bacterial competition is contact-dependent growth inhibition (CDI), in which Gram-negative bacteria use CdiB/CdiA two-partner secretion proteins to suppress the growth of neighboring target cells. CdiB is an Omp85 outer-membrane protein that exports and assembles CdiA exoproteins onto the inhibitor cell surface. CdiA binds to receptors on susceptible bacteria and subsequently delivers its C-terminal toxin domain (CdiA-CT) into the target cell. CDI systems also encode CdiI immunity proteins, which specifically bind to the CdiA-CT and neutralize its toxin activity, thereby protecting CDI+ cells from auto-inhibition. Remarkably, CdiA-CT sequences are highly variable between bacteria, as are the corresponding CdiI immunity proteins. Variations in CDI toxin/immunity proteins suggest that these systems function in bacterial self/non-self recognition and thereby play an important role in microbial communities. In this review, we discuss recent advances in the biochemistry, structural biology and physiology of CDI.
- Abbreviations CDI contact-dependent growth inhibition
- ORF open reading frame
- TPS two-partner secretion
- pmf proton motive force