Functional characterization of the mazef toxin-antitoxin system in the pathogenic bacterium agrobacterium tumefaciens

Wonho Choi, Yoshihiro Yamaguchi, Ji Young Park, Sang Hyun Park, Hyeok Won Lee, Byung Kwan Lim, Michael Otto, Masayori Inouye, Min Ho Yoon, Jung Ho Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a pathogen of various plants which transfers its own DNA (T-DNA) to the host plants. It is used for producing genetically modified plants with this ability. To control T-DNA transfer to the right place, toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems of A. tumefaciens were used to control the target site of transfer without any unintentional targeting. Here, we describe a toxin-antitoxin system, Atu0939 (mazE-at) and Atu0940 (mazF-at), in the chromosome of Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The toxin in the TA system has 33.3% identity and 45.5% similarity with MazF in Escherichia coli. The expression of MazF-at caused cell growth inhibition, while cells with MazF-at co-expressed with MazE-at grew normally. In vivo and in vitro assays revealed that MazF-at inhibited protein synthesis by decreasing the cellular mRNA stability. Moreover, the catalytic residue of MazF-at was determined to be the 24th glutamic acid using site-directed mutagenesis. From the results, we concluded that MazF-at is a type II toxin-antitoxin system and a ribosome-independent endoribonuclease. Here, we characterized a TA system in A. tumefaciens whose understanding might help to find its physiological function and to develop further applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1107
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology


  • Agrobacterium tumefaciens
  • MRNA endonuclease
  • MazE
  • MazF
  • TA system


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