Periodically, a scientific field should examine its early premises. For ubiquitous toxin/antitoxin (TA) systems, several initial paradigms require adjustment based on accumulated data. For example, it is now clear that under physiological conditions, there is little evidence that toxins of TA systems cause cell death and little evidence that TA systems cause persistence. Instead, TA systems are utilized to reduce metabolism during stress, inhibit phages, stabilize genetic elements, and influence biofilm formation (bacterial cells attached via an extracellular matrix). In this essay, it is argued that toxins bound to antitoxins are not likely to become activated by preferential antitoxin degradation but instead, de novo toxin synthesis in the absence of stoichiometric amounts of antitoxin activates toxins.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)