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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Mar;39(5):1382-94.

Regulation of RpoS by a novel small RNA: the characterization of RprA.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bldg. 37 Room 2E 18, Bethesda, MD 20892-4255, USA.


Translational regulation of the stationary phase sigma factor RpoS is mediated by the formation of a double-stranded RNA stem-loop structure in the upstream region of the rpoS messenger RNA, occluding the translation initiation site. The interaction of the rpoS mRNA with a small RNA, DsrA, disrupts the double-strand pairing and allows high levels of translation initiation. We screened a multicopy library of Escherichia coli DNA fragments for novel activators of RpoS translation when DsrA is absent. Clones carrying rprA (RpoS regulator RNA) increased the translation of RpoS. The rprA gene encodes a 106 nucleotide regulatory RNA. As with DsrA, RprA is predicted to form three stem-loops and is highly conserved in Salmonella and Klebsiella species. Thus, at least two small RNAs, DsrA and RprA, participate in the positive regulation of RpoS translation. Unlike DsrA, RprA does not have an extensive region of complementarity to the RpoS leader, leaving its mechanism of action unclear. RprA is non-essential. Mutations in the gene interfere with the induction of RpoS after osmotic shock when DsrA is absent, demonstrating a physiological role for RprA. The existence of two very different small RNA regulators of RpoS translation suggests that such additional regulatory RNAs are likely to exist, both for regulation of RpoS and for regulation of other important cellular components.

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