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Cell. 2000 Jun 9;101(6):613-23.

6S RNA regulates E. coli RNA polymerase activity.

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Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


The E. coli 6S RNA was discovered more than three decades ago, yet its function has remained elusive. Here, we demonstrate that 6S RNA associates with RNA polymerase in a highly specific and efficient manner. UV crosslinking experiments revealed that 6S RNA directly contacts the sigma70 and beta/beta' subunits of RNA polymerase. 6S RNA accumulates as cells reach the stationary phase of growth and mediates growth phase-specific changes in RNA polymerase. Stable association between sigma70 and core RNA polymerase in extracts is only observed in the presence of 6S RNA. We show 6S RNA represses expression from a sigma70-dependent promoter during stationary phase. Our results suggest that the interaction of 6S RNA with RNA polymerase modulates sigma70-holoenzyme activity.

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