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Mol Microbiol. 2012 Jun;84(5):979-89. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08068.x. Epub 2012 May 17.

YeeU enhances the bundling of cytoskeletal polymers of MreB and FtsZ, antagonizing the CbtA (YeeV) toxicity in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Biochemistry, Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ, USA.


All free-living bacteria carry the toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems controlling cell growth and death under stress conditions. YeeU-YeeV (CbtA) is one of the Escherichia coli TA systems, and the toxin, CbtA, has been reported to inhibit the polymerization of bacterial cytoskeletal proteins, MreB and FtsZ. Here, we demonstrate that the antitoxin, YeeU, is a novel type of antitoxin (type IV TA system), which does not form a complex with CbtA but functions as an antagonist for CbtA toxicity. Specifically, YeeU was found to directly interact with MreB and FtsZ, and enhance the bundling of their filamentous polymers in vitro. Surprisingly, YeeU neutralized not only the toxicity of CbtA but also the toxicity caused by other inhibitors of MreB and FtsZ, such as A22, SulA and MinC, indicating that YeeU-induced bundling of MreB and FtsZ has an intrinsic global stabilizing effect on their homeostasis. Here we propose to rename YeeU as CbeA for cytoskeleton bundling-enhancing factor A.

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