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Functional genomics reveals the toxin-antitoxin repertoire and AbiE activity in Serratia

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  • Hannah G Hampton, University of Otago
  • ,
  • Leah M Smith, University of Otago
  • ,
  • Shaun Ferguson
  • Sean Meaden, University of Otago
  • ,
  • Simon A Jackson, University of Otago
  • ,
  • Peter C Fineran, University of Otago

Bacteriophage defences are divided into innate and adaptive systems. Serratia sp. ATCC 39006 has three CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune systems, but its innate immune repertoire is unknown. Here, we re-sequenced and annotated the Serratia genome and predicted its toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems. TA systems can provide innate phage defence through abortive infection by causing infected cells to 'shut down', limiting phage propagation. To assess TA system function on a genome-wide scale, we utilized transposon insertion and RNA sequencing. Of the 32 TA systems predicted bioinformatically, 4 resembled pseudogenes and 11 were demonstrated to be functional based on transposon mutagenesis. Three functional systems belonged to the poorly characterized but widespread, AbiE, abortive infection/TA family. AbiE is a type IV TA system with a predicted nucleotidyltransferase toxin. To investigate the mode of action of this toxin, we measured the transcriptional response to AbiEii expression. We observed dysregulated levels of tRNAs and propose that the toxin targets tRNAs resulting in bacteriostasis. A recent report on a related toxin shows this occurs through addition of nucleotides to tRNA(s). This study has demonstrated the utility of functional genomics for probing TA function in a high-throughput manner, defined the TA repertoire in Serratia and shown the consequences of AbiE induction.

TidsskriftMicrobial Genomics
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2020
Eksternt udgivetJa

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