Send to

Choose Destination
J Mol Biol. 1999 May 14;288(4):521-38.

Decay of rplN and lacZ mRNA in Escherichia coli.

Author information

Program in Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX, 75083-0688, USA.


To examine the previously proposed retroregulation model of spc mRNA degradation, two strains of Escherichia coli B/r were used; one has wild-type spc and lac operons and the other has a lac operon deletion, a wild-type spc operon, and a Pspc-rplN-lacZ fusion operon lacking the normal control sites of the spc operon (rplN is the first gene in the spc operon of ribosomal proteins). The decay of rplN mRNA and of lacZ mRNA in these strains was determined during exponential growth at different rates and after transcript initiation was inhibited by the antibiotic rifampicin. Functional decay of lacZ mRNA was monitored by measurements of beta-galactosidase activity and chemical decay was monitored using probes complementary to rplN, rplX, and to the 5' and 3'-terminal sections of lacZ. Analysis of the data was based on the assumption that the decay involves an endonucleolytic cleavage that functionally inactivates the mRNA and that this is followed by exonucleolytic degradation of the cleavage products. The major conclusions were: (1) During exponential growth, lacZ mRNA of the lac operon was translated about twice as frequently as lacZ mRNA of the spc-lac fusion, and both kinds of lacZ mRNA were translated at an elevated rate in the presence of rifampicin. (2) For lacZ mRNA from the lac operon, the endonuclease inactivation reaction was not affected by rifampicin, but the exonuclease reaction was inhibited. (3) The decay of rplN mRNA from the spc operon was accelerated in the presence of rifampicin; the average life was estimated to be six minutes during exponential growth in LB medium, and 2.8 minutes in the presence of rifampicin. (4) The decay of the rplN section of mRNA from the spc-lac operon fusion was coupled to the decay of the downstream lacZ mRNA section and was strongly inhibited (i.e. partially blocked) in the presence of rifampicin. These results show that the decay of spc mRNA differs in some important aspects from the decay of lac mRNA and support the retroregulation model. Moreover, the results indicate that rifampicin can have a significant and selective impact on the kinetics of both mRNA translation and decay.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center