Prokaryotic toxin-antitoxin systems: novel regulations of the toxins.

Yuichi Otsuka,

Current genetics, January 18, 2016

Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are widely conserved in prokaryotic plasmids and chromosomes and are linked to many roles in cell physiology, including plasmid maintenance, stress response, persistence and protection from phage infection. A TA system is composed of a stable toxin and a labile antitoxin that inhibits a harmful effect of the cognate toxin. When gene expression from the TA loci is repressed under certain conditions such as nutrient starvation, the toxin is freed from the rapidly degrading antitoxin and obstructs an essential cellular process, such as DNA replication, translation and peptidoglycan synthesis, which subsequently causes growth arrest. TA systems are classified into five types according to the nature and the function of antitoxins, and the activity of toxins is tightly regulated in a variety of ways. This short-review highlights several novel regulatory mechanisms for Escherichia coli toxins that we recently discovered.

Pubmed Link: 26780368