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J Mol Biol. 1991 Jan 20;217(2):283-92.

Decay of mRNA encoding ribosomal protein S15 of Escherichia coli is initiated by an RNase E-dependent endonucleolytic cleavage that removes the 3' stabilizing stem and loop structure.

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  • 1Institut de Biologie Physico Chimique, Paris, France.


The transcripts of the rpsO-pnp operon of Escherichia coli, coding for ribosomal protein S15 and polynucleotide phosphorylase, are processed at four sites in the 249 nucleotides of the intercistronic region. The initial processing step in the decay of the pnp mRNA is made by RNase III, which cuts at two sites upstream from the pnp gene. The other two cleavages are dependent on the wild-type allele of the rne gene, which encodes the endonucleolytic enzyme RNase E. The cuts are made 37 nucleotides apart at the base of the stem-loop structure of the rho-independent attenuator located downstream from rpsO. The cleavage downstream from the attenuator generates an rpsO mRNA.nearly identical with the monocistronic attenuated transcript, while the cleavage upstream from the transcription attenuator gives rise to an rpsO mesage lacking the terminal 3' hairpin structure. The rapid degradation of the processed mRNA in an rne+ strain, compared to the slow degradation of the transcript that accumulates in an rne- strain, suggests that RNase E initiates the decay of the rpsO message by removing the stabilizing stem-loop at the 3' end of the RNA.

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