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J Bacteriol. 2002 Feb;184(4):889-94.

Tetracycline induces stabilization of mRNA in Bacillus subtilis.

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Department of Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine of New York University, New York, New York 10029, USA.


The tet(L) gene of Bacillus subtilis confers low-level tetracycline (Tc) resistance. Previous work examining the >20-fold-inducible expression of tet(L) by Tc demonstrated a 12-fold translational induction. Here we show that the other component of tet(L) induction is at the level of mRNA stabilization. Addition of a subinhibitory concentration of Tc results in a two- to threefold increase in tet(L) mRNA stability. Using a plasmid-borne derivative of tet(L) with a large in-frame deletion of the coding sequence, the mechanism of Tc-induced stability was explored by measuring the decay of tet(L) mRNAs carrying specific mutations in the leader region. The results of these experiments, as well as experiments with a B. subtilis strain that is resistant to Tc due to a mutation in the ribosomal S10 protein, suggest different mechanisms for the effects of Tc on translation and on mRNA stability. The key role of the 5' end in determining mRNA stability was confirmed in these experiments. Surprisingly, the stability of several other B. subtilis mRNAs was also induced by Tc, which indicates that addition of Tc may result in a general stabilization of mRNA.

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