Wagner EG, Unoson C
RNA Biol 9 (12) 1513-1519 [2012-12-00; online 2012-10-23]
Chromosomally encoded toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are abundantly present in bacteria and archaea. They have become a hot topic in recent years, because-after many frustrating years of searching for biological functions-some are now known to play roles in persister formation. Persister cells represent a subset of a bacterial population that enters a dormant state and thus becomes refractory to the action of antibiotics. TA modules come in several different flavors, regarding the nature of their gene products, their molecular mechanisms of regulation, their cellular targets, and probably their role in physiology. This review will primarily focus on the SOS-associated tisB/istR1 system in Escherichia coli and discuss its nuts and bolts as well as its effect in promoting a subpopulation phenotype that likely benefits long-term survival of a stressed population.