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Bacterial type II toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are abundant genetic elements and are involved in a diverse array of physiological processes. These systems encode an antitoxin protein that directly binds and effectively neutralizes the protein toxin. Recent studies have highlighted the key roles of type II TA modules in bacterial virulence and pathogenesis, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we investigated the antitoxin HigA in Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. Proteomic analysis of the higA deletion strain revealed an enhanced expression of pathogenic proteins. We further verified that HigA negatively controlled T3SS and T6SS expression by directly interacting with the promoter regions of the regulators amrZ and exsA, respectively. In other words, the reversal of HigA-mediated transcriptional inhibition on stress stimulation could induce virulence genes. These findings confirm the crucial roles of the type II antitoxin in bacterial infection, which highlights the potential of the HigBA TA system as an antibacterial treatment target.


Yingjie Song, Siping Zhang, Guihua Luo, Yalin Shen, Changcheng Li, Yibo Zhu, Qin Huang, Xingyu Mou, Xinyue Tang, Tonggen Liu, Siying Wu, Aiping Tong, Yongxing He, Rui Bao. Type II Antitoxin HigA Is a Key Virulence Regulator in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. ACS infectious diseases. 2021 Oct 08;7(10):2930-2940

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PMID: 34554722

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