Automated discovery and phylogenetic analysis of new toxin-antitoxin systems.

  • publication
  • 27-06-2008

Guglielmini J, Szpirer C, Milinkovitch MC. BMC Microbiol. 2008 ;8():104. 1471-2180-8-104. 10.1186/1471-2180-8-104. PMC2446400.

Although often viewed as elements "at the service of" bacteria, plasmids exhibit replication and maintenance mechanisms that make them purely "selfish DNA" candidates. Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are a spectacular example of such mechanisms: a gene coding for a cytotoxic stable protein is preceded by a gene coding for an unstable antitoxin. The toxin being more stable than the antitoxin, absence of the operon causes a reduction of the amount of the latter relative to the amount of the former. Thus, a cell exhibiting a TA system on a plasmid is 'condemned' either not to loose it or to die.

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