Deletion ofmazFincreasesStaphylococcus aureusbiofilm formation in anica-dependent manner

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Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are composed of a toxin that inhibits an essential cellular process (e.g. DNA replication, transcription, membrane integrity) and its cognate antitoxin that neutralizes the effect of the toxin. Staphylococcus aureus harbors two types of chromosomally encoded TA systems, namely mazEFsa encoding a UACAU-specific mRNA interferase and two paralogous genes of yefM-yoeBsa encoding a ribosome-dependent endoribonuclease system. However, little is known about the physiological role of MazEFsa and YefM-YoeBsa in S. aureus. Upon characterizing the phenotypes of single, double and triple gene deletion mutants, we found that mazFsa deletion led to increased biofilm formation. Subsequently, transcriptional analysis revealed that expression of intercellular adhesin (ica) gene, icaADBC, increased in a mazFsa deletion mutant. mazFsa/icaADBC double gene deletion and genetic complementation approaches provided convincing evidence that increased biofilm formation was caused by an increase in polysaccharide intercellular adhesin synthesized by icaADBC-encoded proteins. Furthermore, through the use of alanine substitutions at the conserved active residues of MazFsa, our results suggested that ica-mediated biofilm formation depended on the mRNA interferase activity of MazFsa. These findings give new insights not only into the physiological role of MazEFsa in S. aureus, but also into the regulatory mechanism of ica-dependent biofilm formation.

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