Functional characterization of Kid-Kis and MazF-MazE in Sf9 cells and Mythimna separata embryos.
Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems are comprised of a toxin and its antidote antitoxin and are widely present in bacterial and in eukaryotic systems. However, no work regarding TA systems has been reported in insects. We characterized the Kid-Kis and MazF-MazE TA systems in Spodoptera frugiperda cells and Mythimna separata embryos and observed that the Kid and MazF toxins were highly toxic. In Sf9 cells transfected with Kid plasmid and MazF alone, the apoptosis rate was 24.37% and 29.47%, respectively. Whereas the toxicity of their cognate antitoxins were limited. Both apoptosis and necrosis were induced by the two toxins. Both the Kis and MazE antitoxins partly neutralized toxicity in a dose-dependent manner, with MazE accomplishing almost full neutralization at a 1:4 toxin:antitoxin ratio, the cell survival rate was 81% and 97%, respectively. Our results indicate that MazF-MazE is a good candidate module for application in insects, such as in developing new sterile insect technique (SIT).