The Toxin-Antitoxin System DarTG Catalyzes Reversible ADP-Ribosylation of DNA

Mol Cell. 2016 Dec 15;64(6):1109-1116. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2016.11.014. Epub 2016 Dec 8.


The discovery and study of toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems helps us advance our understanding of the strategies prokaryotes employ to regulate cellular processes related to the general stress response, such as defense against phages, growth control, biofilm formation, persistence, and programmed cell death. Here we identify and characterize a TA system found in various bacteria, including the global pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The toxin of the system (DarT) is a domain of unknown function (DUF) 4433, and the antitoxin (DarG) a macrodomain protein. We demonstrate that DarT is an enzyme that specifically modifies thymidines on single-stranded DNA in a sequence-specific manner by a nucleotide-type modification called ADP-ribosylation. We also show that this modification can be removed by DarG. Our results provide an example of reversible DNA ADP-ribosylation, and we anticipate potential therapeutic benefits by targeting this enzyme-enzyme TA system in bacterial pathogens such as M. tuberculosis.

Keywords: ADP-ribosylation; DNA damage; DUF; DarTG; NAD; PARP; antitoxin; macrodomain; persistence; toxin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ADP Ribose Transferases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ADP Ribose Transferases / chemistry
  • ADP Ribose Transferases / genetics
  • ADP Ribose Transferases / metabolism*
  • Adenosine Diphosphate / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Antitoxins / chemistry
  • Antitoxins / genetics
  • Antitoxins / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Toxins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Bacterial Toxins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Toxins / genetics
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / chemistry
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / genetics
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / metabolism
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Thymidine / metabolism


  • Antitoxins
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Adenosine Diphosphate
  • ADP Ribose Transferases
  • Thymidine