Clostridium Difficile MazF Toxin Exhibits Selective, Not Global, mRNA Cleavage

J Bacteriol. 2012 Jul;194(13):3464-74. doi: 10.1128/JB.00217-12. Epub 2012 Apr 27.

Abstract

Clostridium difficile is an important, emerging nosocomial pathogen. The transition from harmless colonization to disease is typically preceded by antimicrobial therapy, which alters the balance of the intestinal flora, enabling C. difficile to proliferate in the colon. One of the most perplexing aspects of the C. difficile infectious cycle is its ability to survive antimicrobial therapy and transition from inert colonization to active infection. Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems have been implicated in facilitating persistence after antibiotic treatment. We identified only one TA system in C. difficile strain 630 (epidemic type X), designated MazE-cd and MazF-cd, a counterpart of the well-characterized Escherichia coli MazEF TA system. This E. coli MazF toxin cleaves mRNA at ACA sequences, leading to global mRNA degradation, growth arrest, and death. Likewise, MazF-cd expression in E. coli or Clostridium perfringens resulted in growth arrest. Primer extension analysis revealed that MazF-cd cleaved RNA at the five-base consensus sequence UACAU, suggesting that the mRNAs susceptible to cleavage comprise a subset of total mRNAs. In agreement, we observed differential cleavage of several mRNAs by MazF-cd in vivo, revealing a direct correlation between the number of cleavage recognition sites within a given transcript and its susceptibility to degradation by MazF-cd. Interestingly, upon detailed statistical analyses of the C. difficile transcriptome, the major C. difficile virulence factor toxin B (TcdB) and CwpV, a cell wall protein involved in aggregation, were predicted to be significantly resistant to MazF-cd cleavage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antitoxins / genetics
  • Antitoxins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Toxins / genetics
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Clostridium difficile / genetics
  • Clostridium difficile / metabolism*
  • Endoribonucleases / genetics
  • Endoribonucleases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity

Substances

  • Antitoxins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Endoribonucleases