Toxin YafQ reduces Escherichia coli growth at low temperatures

Yueju Zhao, Michael J. McAnulty, Thomas K. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Toxin/antitoxin (TA) systems reduce metabolism under stress; for example, toxin YafQ of the YafQ/DinJ Escherichia coli TA system reduces growth by cleaving transcripts with inframe 5'-AAA-G/A-3' sites, and antitoxin DinJ is a global regulator that represses its locus as well as controls levels of the stationary sigma factor RpoS. Here we investigated the influence on cell growth at various temperatures and found that deletion of the antitoxin gene, dinJ, resulted in both reduced metabolism and slower growth at 18°C but not at 37°C. The reduction in growth could be complemented by producing DinJ from a plasmid. Using a transposon screen to reverse the effect of the absence of DinJ, two mutations were found that inactivated the toxin YafQ; hence, the toxin caused the slower growth only at low temperatures rather than DinJ acting as a global regulator. Corroborating this result, a clean deletion of yafQ in the ΔdinJ ΔKmR strain restored both metabolism and growth at 18°C. In addition, production of YafQ was more toxic at 18°C compared to 37°C. Furthermore, by overproducing all the E. coli proteins, the global transcription repressor Mlc was found that counteracts YafQ toxicity only at 18°C. Therefore, YafQ is more effective at reducing metabolism at low temperatures, and Mlc is its putative target.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0161577
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Toxin YafQ reduces Escherichia coli growth at low temperatures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this