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Toxins 2014, 6(1), 337-358; doi:10.3390/toxins6010337
Review

Regulating Toxin-Antitoxin Expression: Controlled Detonation of Intracellular Molecular Timebombs

1,*  and 2,*
Received: 6 December 2013; in revised form: 20 December 2013 / Accepted: 8 January 2014 / Published: 15 January 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxin-Antitoxin System)
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Abstract: Genes for toxin-antitoxin (TA) complexes are widely disseminated in bacteria, including in pathogenic and antibiotic resistant species. The toxins are liberated from association with the cognate antitoxins by certain physiological triggers to impair vital cellular functions. TAs also are implicated in antibiotic persistence, biofilm formation, and bacteriophage resistance. Among the ever increasing number of TA modules that have been identified, the most numerous are complexes in which both toxin and antitoxin are proteins. Transcriptional autoregulation of the operons encoding these complexes is key to ensuring balanced TA production and to prevent inadvertent toxin release. Control typically is exerted by binding of the antitoxin to regulatory sequences upstream of the operons. The toxin protein commonly works as a transcriptional corepressor that remodels and stabilizes the antitoxin. However, there are notable exceptions to this paradigm. Moreover, it is becoming clear that TA complexes often form one strand in an interconnected web of stress responses suggesting that their transcriptional regulation may prove to be more intricate than currently understood. Furthermore, interference with TA gene transcriptional autoregulation holds considerable promise as a novel antibacterial strategy: artificial release of the toxin factor using designer drugs is a potential approach to induce bacterial suicide from within.
Keywords: bacteria; toxin-antitoxin; transcription; regulation; antibacterial bacteria; toxin-antitoxin; transcription; regulation; antibacterial
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hayes, F.; Kędzierska, B. Regulating Toxin-Antitoxin Expression: Controlled Detonation of Intracellular Molecular Timebombs. Toxins 2014, 6, 337-358.

AMA Style

Hayes F, Kędzierska B. Regulating Toxin-Antitoxin Expression: Controlled Detonation of Intracellular Molecular Timebombs. Toxins. 2014; 6(1):337-358.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hayes, Finbarr; Kędzierska, Barbara. 2014. "Regulating Toxin-Antitoxin Expression: Controlled Detonation of Intracellular Molecular Timebombs." Toxins 6, no. 1: 337-358.



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