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Biochem J. 2003 Sep 15;374(Pt 3):799-805.

Ribonuclease III-mediated processing of specific Neisseria meningitidis mRNAs.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Biologia e Patologia Cellulare e Molecolare L. Califano, Universit√† degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Via S. Pansini 5, 80131 Napoli, Italy.


Approx. 2% of the Neisseria meningitidis genome consists of small DNA insertion sequences known as Correia or nemis elements, which feature TIRs (terminal inverted repeats) of 26-27 bp in length. Elements interspersed with coding regions are co-transcribed with flanking genes into mRNAs, processed at double-stranded RNA structures formed by TIRs. N. meningitidis RNase III (endoribonuclease III) is sufficient to process nemis+ RNAs. RNA hairpins formed by nemis with the same termini (26/26 and 27/27 repeats) are cleaved. By contrast, bulged hairpins formed by 26/27 repeats inhibit cleavage, both in vitro and in vivo. In electrophoretic mobility shift assays, all hairpin types formed similar retarded complexes upon incubation with RNase III. The levels of corresponding nemis+ and nemis- mRNAs, and the relative stabilities of RNA segments processed from nemis+ transcripts in vitro, may both vary significantly.

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