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J Mol Biol. 2004 Jun 4;339(3):505-14.

The DNA binding protein H-NS binds to and alters the stability of RNA in vitro and in vivo.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical College of Ohio, 3055 Arlington Avenue, Toledo, OH 43614-5806, USA.


H-NS is an abundant prokaryotic transcription factor that preferentially binds to intrinsically bent DNA. Although H-NS has been shown to reduce the transcription of over 100 genes, evidence suggests that H-NS can also affect the translation of some genes. One such gene, rpoS, specifies a sigma factor, RpoS. The ability of H-NS to bind to the rpoS mRNA and the non-coding RNA regulator, DsrA, was tested. Electrophoretic mobility-shift assays yielded an apparent binding affinity of H-NS binding to curved DNA of approximately 1 microM, whereas binding to rpoS mRNA or DsrA RNA was approximately 3 microM. This RNA binding was not prevented by an excess of competitor yeast RNA, suggesting that H-NS specifically bound these RNAs. Footprint analysis with a single strand-specific ribonuclease was used to identify the H-NS binding site(s) on DsrA and rpoS mRNA. Surprisingly, H-NS appeared to enhance the cleavage of DsrA and rpoS mRNA. The enhanced cleavage was at sites that were predicted to be single-stranded and did not result from contaminating nucleases in the H-NS protein preparation or non-specific effects of the nuclease. Quantitative RT-PCR of RNA isolated from wild-type and hns- strains revealed that H-NS also affects the stability of DsrA in vivo. Thus H-NS appears to modulate RNA stability in vivo and in vitro.

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