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Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Mar-Apr;40(2):93-113.

Bacterial small RNA regulators.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Small regulatory RNAs can modify the activity of proteins and the stability and translation of mRNAs. They have now been found in a wide range of organisms, and can play previously unsuspected critical regulatory roles. The bacterial small RNAs include two major classes. The largest family(with at least 20 members in Escherichia coli K12) acts by base pairing with target mRNAs to modify mRNA translation or stability; this class of RNAs also uses an RNA chaperone protein, Hfq. DsrA is the best-studied example of this family of RNAs. It has been shown to positively regulate translation of the transcription factor RpoS by opening an inhibitory hairpin in the mRNA, and to negatively regulate translation of hns by pairing just beyond the translation initiation codon. The class of RNAs that modify activity of proteins is exemplified by CsrB and CsrC of E. coli, two RNAs that bind to and inhibit CsrA, a protein translational regulator. Homologs of CsrA and related regulatory RNAs have been implicated in the regulation of gluconeogenesis, biofilm formation,and virulence factor expression in plant and human pathogens.

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