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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Dec 10;99(25):15908-13. Epub 2002 Nov 27.

An mRNA structure that controls gene expression by binding FMN.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, P.O. Box 208103, New Haven, CT 06520-8103, USA.


The RFN element is a highly conserved domain that is found frequently in the 5'-untranslated regions of prokaryotic mRNAs that encode for flavin mononucleotide (FMN) biosynthesis and transport proteins. We report that this domain serves as the receptor for a metabolite-dependent riboswitch that directly binds FMN in the absence of proteins. Our results also indicate that in Bacillus subtilis, the riboswitch most likely controls gene expression by causing premature transcription termination of the ribDEAHT operon and precluding access to the ribosome-binding site of ypaA mRNA. Sequence and structural analyses indicate that the RFN element is a natural FMN-binding aptamer, the allosteric character of which is harnessed to control gene expression.

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