4P78: Hica3 And Hicb3 Toxin-antitoxin Complex

The mechanisms involved in the virulence of Yersinia pestis, the plague pathogen, are not fully understood. In previous research, we found that a Y. pestis mutant lacking the HicB3 (YPO3369) putative orphan antitoxin was attenuated for virulence in a murine model of bubonic plague. Toxin-antitoxin systems (TASs) are widespread in prokaryotes. Most bacterial species possess many TASs of several types. In type II TASs, the toxin protein is bound and neutralized by its cognate antitoxin protein in the cytoplasm. Here we identify the hicA3 gene encoding the toxin neutralized by HicB3 and show that HicA3-HicB3 constitutes a new functional type II TAS in Y. pestis. Using biochemical and mutagenesis-based approaches, we demonstrate that the HicA3 toxin is an RNase with a catalytic histidine residue. HicB3 has two functions: it sequesters and neutralizes HicA3 by blocking its active site, and it represses transcription of the hicA3B3 operon. Gel shift assays and reporter fusion experiments indicate that the HicB3 antitoxin binds to two operators in the hicA3B3 promoter region. We solved the X-ray structures of HicB3 and the HicA3-HicB3 complex; thus, we present the first crystal structure of a TA complex from the HicAB family. HicB3 forms a tetramer that can bind two HicA3 toxin molecules. HicA3 is monomeric and folds as a double-stranded-RNA-binding domain. The HicB3 N-terminal domain occludes the HicA3 active site, whereas its C-terminal domain folds as a ribbon-helix-helix DNA-binding motif.
PDB ID: 4P78Download
MMDB ID: 122725
PDB Deposition Date: 2014/3/26
Updated in MMDB: 2014/10
Experimental Method:
x-ray diffraction
Resolution: 2.12  Å
Source Organism:
Similar Structures:
Biological Unit for 4P78: tetrameric; determined by software (PISA)
Molecular Components in 4P78
Label Count Molecule
Proteins (4 molecules)
Hicb3 Antitoxin
Molecule annotation
Hica3 Toxin
Molecule annotation
Chemical (1 molecule)
* Click molecule labels to explore molecular sequence information.

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