PrrT/A, a Pseudomonas aeruginosa Bacterial Encoded Toxin-Antitoxin System Involved in Prophage Regulation and Biofilm Formation

Esther Shmidov, Ilana Lebenthal-Loinger, Shira Roth, Sarit Karako-Lampert, Itzhak Zander, Sivan Shoshani, Amos Danielli, Ehud Banin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are genetic modules that consist of a stable protein-toxin and an unstable antitoxin that neutralizes the toxic effect. In type II TA systems, the antitoxin is a protein that inhibits the toxin by direct binding. Type II TA systems, whose roles and functions are under intensive study, are highly distributed among bacterial chromosomes. Here, we identified and characterized a novel type II TA system PrrT/A encoded in the chromosome of the clinical isolate 39016 of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We have shown that the PrrT/A system exhibits classical type II TA characteristics and novel regulatory properties. Following deletion of the prrA antitoxin, we discovered that the system is involved in a range of processes including (i) biofilm and motility, (ii) reduced prophage induction and bacteriophage production, and (iii) increased fitness for aminoglycosides. Taken together, these results highlight the importance of this toxin-antitoxin system to key physiological traits in P. aeruginosa. IMPORTANCE The functions attributed to bacterial TA systems are controversial and remain largely unknown. Our study suggests new insights into the potential functions of bacterial TA systems. We reveal that a chromosome-encoded TA system can regulate biofilm and motility, antibiotic resistance, prophage gene expression, and phage production. The latter presents a thus far unreported function of bacterial TA systems. In addition, with the emergence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, especially with the rising of P. aeruginosa resistant strains, the investigation of TA systems is critical as it may account for potential new targets against the resistant strains.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Shmidov et al.


  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • bacteriophages
  • biofilm
  • biofilms
  • prophages
  • toxin-antitoxin


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