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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2005 Apr;12(4):313-9. Epub 2005 Mar 27.

A highly conserved 6S RNA structure is required for regulation of transcription.

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Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 420 Henry Mall, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


6S RNA, a highly abundant noncoding RNA, regulates transcription through interaction with RNA polymerase in Escherichia coli. Computer searches identified 6S RNAs widely among gamma-proteobacteria. Biochemical approaches were required to identify more divergent 6S RNAs. Two Bacillus subtilis RNAs were found to interact with the housekeeping form of RNA polymerase, thereby establishing them as 6S RNAs. A third B. subtilis RNA was discovered with distinct RNA polymerase-binding activity. Phylogenetic comparison and analysis of mutant RNAs revealed that a conserved secondary structure containing a single-stranded central bulge within a highly double-stranded molecule was essential for 6S RNA function in vivo and in vitro. Reconstitution experiments established the marked specificity of 6S RNA interactions for sigma(70)-RNA polymerase, as well as the ability of 6S RNA to directly inhibit transcription. These data highlight the critical importance of structural characteristics for 6S RNA activity.

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