Mutschler, Hannes; Meinhart, Anton
Toxin-Antitoxin (TA) systems are genetic elements that can be found in the genomes of nearly all bacteria. They encode for a toxin protein as well as its cognate antitoxin. When the antitoxin is degraded, the toxin is released and the host bacterium dies. Based on this mechanism, the epsilon/zeta TA-family not only helps pathogenic bacteria to stabilize resistance genes but also to increase their virulence. The discovery of the working principle of zeta toxins at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research now allows to explain both of these phenomena.