The E. coli hicAB type II toxin-antitoxin locus is unusual by being controlled by two promoters and by having the toxin encoded upstream of the antitoxin. HicA toxins contain a double-stranded RNA-binding fold and cleaves both mRNA and tmRNA in vivo, while HicB antitoxins contain a partial RNase H fold and either a helix-turn-helix (HTH) or ribbon-helix-helix domain. It is not known how an HTH DNA-binding domain affects higher-order structure for the HicAB modules. Here, we present crystal structures of the isolated E. coli HicB antitoxin and full-length HicAB complex showing that HicB forms a stable DNA-binding module and interacts in a canonical way with HicA despite the presence of an HTH-type DNA-binding domain. No major structural rearrangements take place upon binding of the toxin. Both structures expose well-ordered DNA-binding motifs allowing a model for DNA binding by the antitoxin to be generated.
Keywords: DNA-binding protein; RNase H; antitoxin; helix-turn-helix; ribbon-helix-helix; toxin.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.