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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Apr 29;100(9):5052-6. Epub 2003 Apr 17.

The riboswitch-mediated control of sulfur metabolism in bacteria.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, New York University Medical Center, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Many operons in Gram-positive bacteria that are involved in methionine (Met) and cysteine (Cys) biosynthesis possess an evolutionarily conserved regulatory leader sequence (S-box) that positively controls these genes in response to methionine starvation. Here, we demonstrate that a feed-back regulation mechanism utilizes S-adenosyl-methionine as an effector. S-adenosyl-methionine directly and specifically binds to the nascent S-box RNA, causing an intrinsic terminator to form and interrupt transcription prematurely. The S-box leader RNA thus expands the family of newly discovered riboswitches, i.e., natural regulatory RNA aptamers that seem to sense small molecules ranging from amino acid derivatives to vitamins.

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