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J Biol Chem. 1998 Jun 5;273(23):14077-80.

The vacB gene required for virulence in Shigella flexneri and Escherichia coli encodes the exoribonuclease RNase R.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33101-6129, USA.


vacB, a gene previously shown to be required for expression of virulence in Shigella and enteroinvasive Escherichia coli, has been found to encode the 3'-5' exoribonuclease, RNase R. Thus, cloning of E. coli vacB led to overexpression of RNase R activity, and partial deletion or interruption of the cloned gene abolished this overexpression. Interruption of the chromosomal copy of vacB eliminated endogenous RNase R activity; however, the absence of RNase R by itself had no effect on cell growth. In contrast, cells lacking both RNase R and polynucleotide phosphorylase were found to be inviable. These data indicate that RNase R participates in an essential cell function in addition to its role in virulence. The identification of the vacB gene product as RNase R should aid in understanding how the virulence phenotype in enterobacteria is expressed and regulated. On the basis of this information we propose that vacB be renamed rnr.

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