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Science. 2004 Oct 8;306(5694):275-9.

A glycine-dependent riboswitch that uses cooperative binding to control gene expression.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, Post Office Box 208103, New Haven, CT 06520-8103, USA.

Erratum in

  • Science. 2004 Nov 26;306(5701):1477.


We identified a previously unknown riboswitch class in bacteria that is selectively triggered by glycine. A representative of these glycine-sensing RNAs from Bacillus subtilis operates as a rare genetic on switch for the gcvT operon, which codes for proteins that form the glycine cleavage system. Most glycine riboswitches integrate two ligand-binding domains that function cooperatively to more closely approximate a two-state genetic switch. This advanced form of riboswitch may have evolved to ensure that excess glycine is efficiently used to provide carbon flux through the citric acid cycle and maintain adequate amounts of the amino acid for protein synthesis. Thus, riboswitches perform key regulatory roles and exhibit complex performance characteristics that previously had been observed only with protein factors.

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