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Mol Cell. 2003 Apr;11(4):875-84.

Crystal structure of the MazE/MazF complex: molecular bases of antidote-toxin recognition.

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Laboratories of Molecular Biophysics, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, New York 10021, USA.


A structure of the Escherichia coli chromosomal MazE/MazF addiction module has been determined at 1.7 A resolution. Addiction modules consist of stable toxin and unstable antidote proteins that govern bacterial cell death. MazE (antidote) and MazF (toxin) form a linear heterohexamer composed of alternating toxin and antidote homodimers (MazF(2)-MazE(2)-MazF(2)). The MazE homodimer contains a beta barrel from which two extended C termini project, making interactions with flanking MazF homodimers that resemble the plasmid-encoded toxins CcdB and Kid. The MazE/MazF heterohexamer structure documents that the mechanism of antidote-toxin recognition is common to both chromosomal and plasmid-borne addiction modules, and provides general molecular insights into toxin function, antidote degradation in the absence of toxin, and promoter DNA binding by antidote/toxin complexes.

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