Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 May 21;110(21):8501-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1222031110. Epub 2013 May 6.

Mycobacterial toxin MazF-mt6 inhibits translation through cleavage of 23S rRNA at the ribosomal A site.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


The Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome contains an unusually high number of toxin-antitoxin modules, some of which have been suggested to play a role in the establishment and maintenance of latent tuberculosis. Nine of these toxin-antitoxin loci belong to the mazEF family, encoding the intracellular toxin MazF and its antitoxin inhibitor MazE. Nearly every MazF ortholog recognizes a unique three- or five-base RNA sequence and cleaves mRNA. As a result, these toxins selectively target a subset of the transcriptome for degradation and are known as "mRNA interferases." Here we demonstrate that a MazF family member from M. tuberculosis, MazF-mt6, has an additional role--inhibiting translation through targeted cleavage of 23S rRNA in the evolutionarily conserved helix/loop 70. We first determined that MazF-mt6 cleaves mRNA at (5')UU↓CCU(3') sequences. We then discovered that MazF-mt6 also cleaves M. tuberculosis 23S rRNA at a single UUCCU in the ribosomal A site that contacts tRNA and ribosome recycling factor. To gain further mechanistic insight, we demonstrated that MazF-mt6-mediated cleavage of rRNA can inhibit protein synthesis in the absence of mRNA cleavage. Finally, consistent with the position of 23S rRNA cleavage, MazF-mt6 destabilized 50S-30S ribosomal subunit association. Collectively, these results show that MazF toxins do not universally act as mRNA interferases, because MazF-mt6 inhibits protein synthesis by cleaving 23S rRNA in the ribosome active center.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center