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J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 1999 Nov;1(2):295-302.

Occurrence of mazEF-like antitoxin/toxin systems in bacteria.

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Institut für Mikrobiologie und Molekularbiologie, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität, Greifswald, Germany.


The mazEF locus of Escherichia coil located in an operon together with the upstream relA gene (encoding ATP:GTP 3'-pyrophosphotransferase; (p)ppGpp synthetase), encodes an antitoxin/toxin system which might play a role in programmed cell death under stress and starvation conditions at high cell densities. By homology searches, chromosomally encoded orthologous systems were identified in a variety of bacteria, sometimes without the MazE-like antitoxin, and several bacterial species possess multiple MazEF-like systems (paralogs). In many gram positive bacteria, the mazEF-locus is located directly upstream of the sigB (stress sigma factor sigmaB) operon in a putative operon together with the upstream dal (aIr) gene (encoding D-alanine racemase). The acidic antitoxins are less conserved than the basic toxins. The differences in genomic organization of the mazEFloci in E. coli versus those in gram positive bacteria might indicate their association with different stress response regulons in these organisms. A study on the sigmaB operon of Staphylococcus aureus showed that the mazF gene of this organism is cotranscribed with the sigmaB operon in response to heat shock, providing the first example that the expression of the mazEFlocus might be indeed associated with stress responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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