Functionality and cross-regulation of the four SprG/SprF type I toxin-antitoxin systems in Staphylococcus aureus

Abstract : Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are ubiquitous among bacteria, frequently expressed in multiple copies, and important for functions such as antibiotic resistance and persistence. Type I TA systems are composed of a stable toxic peptide whose expression is repressed by an unstable RNA antitoxin. Here, we investigated the functionalities, regulation, and possible cross-talk between three core genome copies of the pathogenicity island-encoded sprG1/sprF1' type I TA system in the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. Except for SprG4, all RNA from these pairs, sprG2/sprF2, sprG3/sprF3, sprG4/sprF4, are expressed in the HG003 strain. SprG2 and SprG3 RNAs encode toxic peptides whose overexpression triggers bacteriostasis, which is counteracted at the RNA level by the overexpression of SprF2 and SprF3 antitoxins. Complex formation between each toxin and its cognate antitoxin involves their overlapping 3 ends, and each SprF antitoxin specifically neutralizes the toxicity of its cognate SprG toxin without cross-talk. However, overexpression studies suggest cross-regulations occur at the RNA level between the SprG/SprF TA systems during growth. When subjected to H2O2-induced oxidative stress, almost all antitoxin levels dropped, while only SprG1 and SprF1 were reduced during phagocytosis-induced oxidative stress. SprG1, SprF1, SprF2, SprG3and SprF3 levels also decrease during hyperosmotic stress. This suggests that novel SprG/SprF TA systems are involved in S. aureus persistence.
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Camille Riffaud, Marie-Laure Pinel-Marie, Gaetan Pascreau, Brice Felden. Functionality and cross-regulation of the four SprG/SprF type I toxin-antitoxin systems in Staphylococcus aureus. Nucleic Acids Research, Oxford University Press, 2019, 47 (4), pp.1740-1758. ⟨10.1093/nar/gky1256⟩. ⟨hal-02156084⟩

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