Laura Fernández-García, Xinyu Gao, Joy Kirigo, Sooyeon Song, Michael E. Battisti, Rodolfo Garcia-Contreras, Maria Tomas, Yunxue Guo, Xiaoxue Wang, Thomas K. Wood

Single-cell analysis reveals that cryptic prophage protease LfgB protects Escherichia coli during oxidative stress by cleaving antitoxin MqsA

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Cell Biology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Genetics
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Physiology

ABSTRACT Although toxin/antitoxin (TA) systems are ubiquitous, beyond phage inhibition and mobile element stabilization, their role in host metabolism is obscure. One of the best-characterized TA systems is MqsR/MqsA of Escherichia coli , which has been linked previously to protecting gastrointestinal species during the stress it encounters from the bile salt deoxycholate as it colonizes humans. However, some recent whole-population studies have challenged the role of toxins such as MqsR in bacterial physiology since the mqsRA locus is induced over a hundred-fold during stress, but a phenotype was not found upon its deletion. Here, we investigate further the role of MqsR/MqsA by utilizing single cells and demonstrate that upon oxidative stress, the TA system MqsR/MqsA has a heterogeneous effect on the transcriptome of single cells. Furthermore, we discovered that MqsR activation leads to induction of the poorly characterized yfjXY ypjJ yfjZF operon of cryptic prophage CP4-57. Moreover, deletion of yfjY makes the cells sensitive to H 2 O 2 , acid, and heat stress, and this phenotype was complemented. Hence, we recommend yfjY be renamed to lfgB ( l ess f atality g ene B ). Critically, MqsA represses lfgB by binding the operon promoter, and LfgB is a protease that degrades MqsA to derepress rpoS and facilitate the stress response. Therefore, the MqsR/MqsA TA system facilitates the stress response through cryptic phage protease LfgB. IMPORTANCE The roles of toxin/antitoxin systems in cell physiology are few and include phage inhibition and stabilization of genetic elements; yet, to date, there are no single-transcriptome studies for toxin/antitoxin systems and few insights for prokaryotes from this novel technique. Therefore, our results with this technique are important since we discover and characterize a cryptic prophage protease that is regulated by the MqsR/MqsA toxin/antitoxin system in order to regulate the host response to oxidative stress.

Need a simple solution for managing your BibTeX entries? Explore CiteDrive!

  • Web-based, modern reference management
  • Collaborate and share with fellow researchers
  • Integration with Overleaf
  • Comprehensive BibTeX/BibLaTeX support
  • Save articles and websites directly from your browser
  • Search for new articles from a database of tens of millions of references
Try out CiteDrive

More from our Archive