Toxin-Antitoxin systems eliminate defective cells and preserve symmetry in Bacillus subtilis biofilms

Zohar Bloom-Ackermann, Nitai Steinberg, Gili Rosenberg, Yaara Oppenheimer-Shaanan, Dan Pollack, Shir Ely, Nimrod Storzi, Asaf Levy, Ilana Kolodkin-Gal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Toxin-antitoxin modules are gene pairs encoding a toxin and its antitoxin, and are found on the chromosomes of many bacteria, including pathogens. Here, we characterize the specific contribution of the TxpA and YqcG toxins in elimination of defective cells from developing Bacillus subtilis biofilms. On nutrient limitation, defective cells accumulated in the biofilm breaking its symmetry. Deletion of the toxins resulted in accumulation of morphologically abnormal cells, and interfered with the proper development of the multicellular community. Dual physiological responses are of significance for TxpA and YqcG activation: nitrogen deprivation enhances the transcription of both TxpA and YqcG toxins, and simultaneously sensitizes the biofilm cells to their activity. Furthermore, we demonstrate that while both toxins when overexpressed affect the morphology of the developing biofilm, the toxin TxpA can act to lyse and dissolve pre-established B. subtilis biofilms.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5032-5047
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


Dive into the research topics of 'Toxin-Antitoxin systems eliminate defective cells and preserve symmetry in Bacillus subtilis biofilms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this