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Mol Microbiol. 1992 Feb;6(3):277-82.

Control of functional mRNA stability in bacteria: multiple mechanisms of nucleolytic and non-nucleolytic inactivation.

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University Institute of Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Messenger RNA in bacteria may be inactivated by several parallel mechanisms acting independently on different target sites. For any species of mRNA the overall rate of inactivation is determined by the sum of the contributions from the different mechanisms. Transcripts may be inactivated directly by endonucleolytic attack or by processive nucleolytic degradation, which may proceed in the 3'-5' direction and probably also in the 5'-3' direction. Moreover, the functional lifetime of many mRNAs may be determined by processes that are not nucleolytic, such as the binding of translational repressors or the formation of secondary structures which prevent initiation of translation. These non-nucleolytic processes may also determine the chemical stability as chemical degradation frequently appears to be closely coupled to functional inactivation. The relative importance of the different mechanisms in the inactivation of bulk cellular mRNA, as well as the general prospects for engineering of stable mRNAs are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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