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EMBO J. 1994 Jul 15;13(14):3368-77.

Roles of RNase E, RNase II and PNPase in the degradation of the rpsO transcripts of Escherichia coli: stabilizing function of RNase II and evidence for efficient degradation in an ams pnp rnb mutant.

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  • 1Institut de Biologie Physico Chimique, Paris, France.


The Escherichia coli rpsO gene gives rise to different mRNA species resulting either from termination of transcription or from processing of primary transcripts by RNase E and RNase III. The main degradation pathway of these transcripts involves a rate-limiting RNase E cleavage downstream of the structural gene which removes the 3' terminal stem-loop structure of the transcription terminator. This structure protects the message from the attack of 3'-5' exonucleases and its removal results in very rapid degradation of the transcript by polynucleotide phosphorylase and RNase II. Polynucleotide phosphorylase is also able to degrade slowly the mRNA harboring the 3' terminal hairpin of the terminator. In contrast, RNase II appears to protect the rpsO mRNA species which retains the 3' hairpin structure. Rapid degradation of the rpsO mRNA is observed after inactivation of RNase II even in a strain deficient for RNase E and polynucleotide phosphorylase. The enzyme(s) involved in this degradation pathway is not known. We detected an unstable elongated rpsO mRNA presumably resulting from the addition of nucleotides at the 3' end of the transcript.

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