The C. difficile toxin B membrane translocation machinery is an evolutionarily conserved protein delivery apparatus
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Large Clostridial Toxins (LCTs) are a family of six homologous protein toxins that are implicated in severe disease. LCTs infiltrate host cells using a translocation domain (LCT-T) that contains both cell-surface receptor binding sites and a membrane translocation apparatus. Despite much effort, LCT translocation remains poorly understood. Here we report the identification of 1104 LCT-T homologs, with 769 proteins from bacteria outside of clostridia. Sequences are widely distributed in pathogenic and host-associated species, in a variety of contexts and architectures. Consistent with these homologs being functional toxins, we show that a distant LCT-T homolog from Serratia marcescens acts as a pH-dependent translocase to deliver its effector into host cells. Based on evolutionary footprinting of LCT-T homologs, we further define an evolutionarily conserved translocase region that we show is an autonomous translocase capable of delivering heterologous cargo into host cells. Our work uncovers a broad class of translocating toxins and provides insights into LCT translocation.
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