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Mol Microbiol. 2002 Jan;43(1):159-71.

RNase E levels in Escherichia coli are controlled by a complex regulatory system that involves transcription of the rne gene from three promoters.

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Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


The rne gene of Escherichia coli encodes RNase E, an essential endoribonuclease that is involved in both mRNA decay and rRNA processing. Here we present evidence that the gene is transcribed from three promoters: p1, p2 and p3. The p2 and p3 promoters map 34 and 145 nt upstream from the previously characterized rne promoter, p1, generating unusually long 5' UTRs of 395 and 506 nt respectively. Based on promoter-lacZ transcriptional fusions, p1 is a more efficient promoter than either p2 or p3. Low copy number or single copy number vectors carrying rne transcribed from either p1, p2 or p3 alone complement the rne 1018::bla deletion mutation at 30 degrees C, 37 degrees C and 44 degrees C. However, normal autoregulation requires the presence of all three promoters. A comparison among intracellular levels of RNase E, the half-lives of the rpsO, rpsT and rne mRNAs, and growth rates, indicates that the cell contains a considerable excess of RNase E protein. In addition, when the rne transcript is stabilized at low RNase E levels, it is not efficiently translated.

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