Aim: To obtain more information about the toxin/antitoxin (TA) systems in the Vibrio genus and also to examine their involvement in the induction of a viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state, we searched homologues of the Escherichia coli TA systems in the Vibrio parahaemolyticus genome. Methods and Results: We found that a gene cluster, vp1842/vp1843, in the V. parahaemolyticus genome database has homology to that encoding the E. coli TA proteins, DinJ/YafQ. Expression of the putative toxin gene vp1843 in E. coli cells strongly inhibited the cell growth, while coexpression with the putative antitoxin gene vp1842 neutralized this effect. Mutational analysis identified Lys37 and Pro45 in the gene product VP1843 of vp1843 as crucial residues for the growth retardation of E. coli cells. VP1843, unlike the E. coli toxin YafQ, has no protein synthesis inhibitory activity, and that instead the expression of vp1843 in E. coli caused morphological change of the cells. Conclusions: The gene cluster vp1842/vp1843 encodes the V. parahaemolyticus TA system; VP1843 inhibits cell growth, whereas VP1842 serves as an antitoxin by forming a stable complex with VP1843. Significance and Impact of the Study: The putative toxin, VP1843, may be involved in the induction of the VBNC state in V. parahaemolyticus by inhibiting cell division.
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