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J Mol Biol. 2001 Jun 8;309(3):605-14.

Four-way junctions in antisense RNA-mRNA complexes involved in plasmid replication control: a common theme?

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UPR 9002 du CNRS, Institut de Biologie Mol├ęculaire et Cellulaire, 15 Rue R. Descartes, Strasbourg Cedex, F-67084, France.


In several groups of bacterial plasmids, antisense RNAs regulate copy number through inhibition of replication initiator protein synthesis. In plasmid R1, we have recently shown that the inhibitory complex between the antisense RNA (CopA) and its target mRNA (CopT) is characterized by the formation of two intermolecular helices, resulting in a four-way junction structure and a side-by-side helical alignment. Based on lead-induced cleavage and ribonuclease (RNase) V(1) probing combined with molecular modeling, a strikingly similar topology is supported for the complex formed between the antisense RNA (Inc) and mRNA (RepZ) of plasmid Col1b-P9. In particular, the position of the four-way junction and the location of divalent ion-binding site(s) indicate that the structural features of these two complexes are essentially the same in spite of sequence differences. Comparisons of several target and antisense RNAs in other plasmids further indicate that similar binding pathways are used to form the inhibitory antisense-target RNA complexes. Thus, in all these systems, the structural features of both antisense and target RNAs determine the topologically possible and kinetically favored pathway that is essential for efficient in vivo control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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