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RNA Biol. 2011 Sep-Oct;8(5):766-70. doi: 10.4161/rna.8.5.16024. Epub 2011 Jul 26.

Discriminating tastes: physiological contributions of the Hfq-binding small RNA Spot 42 to catabolite repression.

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  • 1Cell Biology and Metabolism Program, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD, USA. beiselcl@mail.nih.gov


Hfq-binding small RNAs (sRNAs) are critical regulators that form limited base-pairing interactions with target mRNAs in bacteria. These sRNAs have been linked to diverse environmental responses, yet little is known how Hfq-binding sRNAs participate in the regulatory networks associated with each response. We recently described how the Hfq-binding sRNA Spot 42 in Escherichia coli contributes to catabolite repression, a regulatory phenomenon that allows bacteria to consume some carbon sources over others. Spot 42 base pairs with numerous mRNAs encoding enzymes in central and secondary metabolism, redox balancing, and the uptake and consumption of non-preferred carbon sources. Many of the corresponding genes are transcriptionally activated by the Spot 42-repressor CRP, forming a regulatory circuit called a multi-output feedforward loop. We found that this loop influences both the steady-state levels and dynamics of gene regulation. In this article, we discuss how the CRP-Spot 42 feedforward loop is integrated into encompassing networks and how this loop may benefit enteric bacteria facing uncertain and changing nutrient conditions.

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