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Biol Chem. 2005 Dec;386(12):1279-86.

RNA thermometers are common in alpha- and gamma-proteobacteria.

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Lehrstuhl für Biologie der Mikroorganismen, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany.


Expression of many rhizobial small heat-shock genes is controlled by the ROSE element, a thermoresponsive structure in the 5'-untranslated region of the corresponding mRNAs. Using a bioinformatics approach, we found more than 20 new potential ROSE-like RNA thermometers upstream of small heat-shock genes in a wide variety of alpha- and gamma-proteobacteria. Northern blot analyses revealed heat-inducible transcripts of the representative candidate Caulobacter crescentus CC2258, Escherichia coli ibpA and Salmonella typhimurium ibpA genes. Typical sigma(32)-type promoters were mapped upstream of the potential RNA thermometers by primer extension. Additional translational control was demonstrated in a lacZ reporter system and by site-directed mutagenesis. RNA secondary structure predictions strongly suggest that the Shine-Dalgarno sequence in the RNA thermometers is masked at low temperatures. Combining two regulatory modules, a sigma(32) promoter and a ROSE-type RNA thermometer, provides a novel stringent mechanism to control expression of small heat-shock genes.

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