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Endoribonuclease toxin MazF



Escherichia coli (strain K12)
Reviewed-Annotation score: -Experimental evidence at protein leveli


Toxic component of a type II toxin-antitoxin (TA) system. A sequence-specific endoribonuclease it inhibits protein synthesis by cleaving mRNA and inducing bacterial stasis. It is stable, single-strand specific with mRNA cleavage independent of the ribosome, although translation enhances cleavage for some mRNAs (PubMed:18854355). Cleavage occurs at the 5'-end of ACA sequences, yielding a 2',3'-cyclic phosphate and a free 5'-OH, although cleavage can also occur on the 3'-end of the first A (PubMed:15537630, PubMed:23280569). Digests 16S rRNA in vivo 43 nts upstream of the C-terminus; this removes the anti-Shine-Dalgarno sequence forming a mixed population of wild-type and "stress ribosomes". Stress ribosomes do not translate leader-containing mRNA but are proficient in translation of leaderless mRNA, which alters the protein expression profile of the cell; MazF produces some leaderless mRNA (PubMed:21944167). The toxic endoribonuclease activity is inhibited by its labile cognate antitoxin MazE. Toxicity results when the levels of MazE decrease in the cell, leading to mRNA degradation. This effect can be rescued by expression of MazE, but after 6 hours in rich medium overexpression of MazF leads to programmed cell death (PubMed:8650219, PubMed:11222603). MazF-mediated cell death occurs following a number of stress conditions in a relA-dependent fashion and only when cells are in log phase; sigma factor S (rpoS) protects stationary phase cells from MazF-killing (PubMed:15150257, PubMed:19251848). Cell growth and viability are not affected when MazF and MazE are coexpressed. Both MazE and MazE-MazF bind to the promoter region of the mazE-mazF operon to inhibit their own transcription. MazE has higher affinity for promoter DNA in the presence of MazF (PubMed:25564525). Cross-talk can occur between different TA systems, ectopic expression of this toxin induces transcription of the relBEF TA system operon with specific cleavage of the mRNA produced (PubMed:23432955).11 Publications
Might also serve to protect cells against bacteriophage; in the presence of MazE-MazF fewer P1 phage are produced than in a disrupted strain. For strain K38 most wild-type cells are killed but not by phage lysis; it was suggested that MazE-MazF causes P1 phage exclusion from the bacterial population. This phenomenon is strain dependent.1 Publication
The physiological role of this TA system is debated. Programmed cell death (PCD) occurs when cells are at high density and depends on the presence of MazE-MazF and a quorum sensing pentapeptide, the extracellular death factor (EDF) with sequence Asn-Asn-Trp-Asn-Asn (NNWNN), probably produced from the zwf gene product glucose-6-phosphate 1-dehydrogenase (PubMed:17962566, PubMed:18310334). Cell death governed by the MazE-MazF and DinJ-YafQ TA systems seems to play a role in biofilm formation, while MazE-MazF is also implicated in cell death in liquid media (PubMed:19707553). Implicated in hydroxy radical-mediated cell death induced by hydroxyurea treatment (PubMed:20005847, PubMed:23416055). In conjunction with EDF prevents apoptotic-like death (ALD) in the presence of DNA damaging agents, probably by reducing recA mRNA levels in a non-endonuclease-mediated manner (PubMed:22412352). Other studies (in strains BW25113 and MC4100, the latter makes EDF) demonstrate MazF does not cause PCD but instead bacteriostasis and possibly a dormant state as well as persister cell generation (PubMed:24375411). mRNA interferases play a role in bacterial persistence to antibiotics; overexpression of this protein induces persisters resistant to ciprofloxacin and ampicillin (PubMed:21788497).10 Publications


Strain K12 / MG1655 is deficient in both production and response to EDF, unlike strains K12 / MC4100, K12 / W3110 and K12 / K38, all of which make and respond to EDF.1 Publication

Activity regulationi

Inhibited by Mg2+ (PubMed:15537630). Stimulated in vitro in a concentration-dependent fashion by EDF, which is able to overcome inhibition by cognate antitoxin MazE (PubMed:21419338). The TA system is antagonized by stress response kinase SrkA, but probably not by phosphorylation of MazF (PubMed:23416055).3 Publications

GO - Molecular functioni

GO - Biological processi


Molecular functionDNA-binding, Endonuclease, Hydrolase, Nuclease, Repressor, RNA-binding
Biological processAntiviral defense, Quorum sensing, Stress response, Toxin-antitoxin system, Transcription, Transcription regulation, Translation regulation

Enzyme and pathway databases


Names & Taxonomyi

Protein namesi
Recommended name:
Endoribonuclease toxin MazF (EC:3.1.27.-1 Publication)
Alternative name(s):
Toxin MazF
mRNA interferase MazF1 Publication
Gene namesi
Synonyms:chpA, chpAK
Ordered Locus Names:b2782, JW2753
OrganismiEscherichia coli (strain K12)
Taxonomic identifieri83333 [NCBI]
Taxonomic lineageiBacteriaProteobacteriaGammaproteobacteriaEnterobacteralesEnterobacteriaceaeEscherichia
  • UP000000318 Componenti: Chromosome
  • UP000000625 Componenti: Chromosome

Organism-specific databases

EcoGeneiEG11249 mazF

Subcellular locationi

GO - Cellular componenti

Pathology & Biotechi

Biotechnological usei

Can be used to produce large quantities of a single protein if the gene coding for the protein does not contain any ACA codons. Up to 90% of expressed bacterial cellular protein can be the target, which can be produced for up to 4 days. The system also works in eukaryotic cells.1 Publication

Disruption phenotypei

Decreased sensitivity to dramatic intracellular increases of ppGpp. Cells missing mazE-mazF survive high temperature, various DNA-damaging agents and H2O2 exposure better than wild-type cells. Cells missing mazE-mazF produce more P1 phage than wild-type cells, while introduction of lysogens into a growing non-lysogenic disruption culture is lethal (PubMed:15316771). Cells missing mazE-mazF show reduced biofilm formation, and survive antibiotic treatment in log phase better than wild-type cells (PubMed:11222603, PubMed:19707553). However lag phase cells disrupted only for mazF had a lower survival rate than wild-type cells (PubMed:24375411). Cells missing mazE-mazF survive hydroxyurea treatment better than wild-type; further disruption of relE-relB and tonB yields even better survival (PubMed:20005847). Cells missing mazE-mazF undergo an apoptotic-like death (ALD) upon DNA damage characterized by membrane depolarization and DNA fragmentation; further disruption of recA prevents membrane depolarization (PubMed:22412352). Unlike the single srkA disruption mutant, a triple srkA-mazE-mazF disruption mutant shows no hyperlethality in the presence of nalidixic acid or UV light, suggesting SrkA has a negative effect on MazF (PubMed:23416055). mRNA interferases play a role in bacterial persistence to antibiotics; as 10 mRNA interferases are successively deleted reduced levels of persisters are generated (PubMed:21788497).11 Publications


Feature keyPosition(s)DescriptionActionsGraphical viewLength
Mutagenesisi17 – 28FDPTK…EQAGH → GGGGGGGGGGG: Changes loop 1 to poly-G; loss of endoribonuclease activity. 1 PublicationAdd BLAST12
Mutagenesisi17 – 28FDPTK…EQAGH → LGPPSGSQPAKR: Changes loop 1 to MazF6 M.tuberculosis sequence; loss of endoribonuclease activity. 1 PublicationAdd BLAST12
Mutagenesisi17 – 28FDPTK…EQAGH → PDDSRGPVPSYS: Changes loop 1 to MazF M.xanthus sequence; loss of endoribonuclease activity. 1 PublicationAdd BLAST12
Mutagenesisi24E → A: Greatly reduces toxicity, about 10-fold less RNA cleavage activity. Expression in the presence of wt MazF has a dominant-negative phenotype, causing cell death as it titrates out the MazE antitoxin; still activates operon transcription. 2 Publications1
Mutagenesisi28H → A: No changes in toxicity. 1 Publication1
Mutagenesisi53 – 61TQSKGYPFE → GGGGGGGG or GGGGGGGGGGG: Changes loop 2 to poly-G; reduces endoribonuclease activity, alters cleavage sites. 1 Publication9
Mutagenesisi53 – 61TQSKGYPFE → SNLHRASEPGN: Changes loop 2 to MazF M.xanthus sequence; reduces endoribonuclease activity, alters cleavage sites. 1 Publication9
Mutagenesisi53 – 61TQSKGYPFE → SNTALAAMPGN: Changes loop 2 to MazF6 M.tuberculosis sequence; reduces endoribonuclease activity, alters cleavage sites. 1 Publication9

Chemistry databases


PTM / Processingi

Molecule processing

Feature keyPosition(s)DescriptionActionsGraphical viewLength
ChainiPRO_00002018971 – 111Endoribonuclease toxin MazFAdd BLAST111

Proteomic databases




Expressed in exponentially growing cells. Induction has been reported to occur after amino acid starvation in a ppGpp-independent fashion and to be Lon protease-dependent (PubMed:12972253), but also to not occur after amino acid starvation and to be regulated by ppGpp (PubMed:8650219). Also induced in M9 minimal medium and by chloramphenicol treatment (PubMed:21944167). MazE alone and in combination with MazF, represses transcription of the mazE-mazF operon. Fis activates transcription. Part of the relA-mazE-mazF-mazG operon, there is also a second mazE-mazF specific promoter which is negatively autoregulated (PubMed:2844820, PubMed:8650219). Operon induced by ectopic expression of toxin RelE; operon induction by amino acid starvation requires the relBEF operon (PubMed:23432955).7 Publications


Subunit structurei

Probably a dimer. Forms a heterohexamer composed of alternating toxin and antitoxin homodimers MazF2-MazE2-MazF2. The binding site of MazE and ssRNA or ssDNA are largely overlapping; the presence of only 1 MazE molecule inhibits mRNA endoribonuclease activity. Binds to EDF but not a mutated EDF (NNGNN) (PubMed:21419338).5 Publications

GO - Molecular functioni

Protein-protein interaction databases

BioGridi4262300, 13 interactors
ComplexPortaliCPX-1086 MazEF toxin-antitoxin complex
IntActiP0AE70, 2 interactors

Chemistry databases



Secondary structure

Legend: HelixTurnBeta strandPDB Structure known for this area
Show more details

3D structure databases


Miscellaneous databases


Family & Domainsi


Feature keyPosition(s)DescriptionActionsGraphical viewLength
Regioni17 – 28Loop 1, participates in catalytic activity1 PublicationAdd BLAST12
Regioni53 – 61Loop 2, involved in substrate recognition1 Publication9


Loop 1 (residues 17-28) effects catalytic activity while recognition of the ACA cleavage site is influenced by loop 2 (residues 53-61). Alterations of loop 2 generate new cleavage sites in addition to retaining the original cleavage site.1 Publication

Sequence similaritiesi

Belongs to the PemK/MazF family.Curated

Phylogenomic databases

eggNOGiENOG4105MZG Bacteria

Family and domain databases

Gene3Di2.30.30.110, 1 hit
InterProiView protein in InterPro
IPR003477 PemK-like
IPR011067 Plasmid_toxin/cell-grow_inhib
PANTHERiPTHR33988 PTHR33988, 1 hit
PfamiView protein in Pfam
PF02452 PemK_toxin, 1 hit


Sequence statusi: Complete.

P0AE70-1 [UniParc]FASTAAdd to basket
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Mass (Da):12,098
Last modified:December 6, 2005 - v1

Sequence databases

Select the link destinations:
Links Updated
D16450 Genomic DNA Translation: BAA03918.1
J04039 Unassigned DNA Translation: AAA03239.1
U29580 Genomic DNA Translation: AAA69292.1
U00096 Genomic DNA Translation: AAC75824.1
AP009048 Genomic DNA Translation: BAE76856.1
RefSeqiNP_417262.1, NC_000913.3
WP_000254738.1, NZ_LN832404.1

Genome annotation databases

EnsemblBacteriaiAAC75824; AAC75824; b2782
BAE76856; BAE76856; BAE76856

Similar proteinsi

Entry informationi

Entry nameiMAZF_ECOLI
AccessioniPrimary (citable) accession number: P0AE70
Secondary accession number(s): P33645, Q2MA50
Entry historyiIntegrated into UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot: December 6, 2005
Last sequence update: December 6, 2005
Last modified: September 12, 2018
This is version 101 of the entry and version 1 of the sequence. See complete history.
Entry statusiReviewed (UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot)
Annotation programProkaryotic Protein Annotation Program


Keywords - Technical termi

3D-structure, Complete proteome, Reference proteome
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Main funding by: National Institutes of Health

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