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Mol Microbiol. 2006 Dec;62(6):1700-12.

RNase R degrades non-stop mRNAs selectively in an SmpB-tmRNA-dependent manner.

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Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Center for Infectious Diseases of Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.


The SmpB-tmRNA-mediated trans-translation system has two well-established activities: rescuing ribosomes stalled on aberrant mRNAs and marking the associated protein fragments for proteolysis. Although the causative non-stop mRNAs are known to be degraded, little is known about the enabling mechanism or the RNases involved in their disposal. We report that Escherichia coli has an enabling mechanism that requires RNase R activity and is dependent on the presence of SmpB protein and tmRNA, suggesting a requirement for active transtranslation in facilitating RNase R engagement and promoting non-stop mRNA decay. Interestingly, this selective transcript degradation by RNase R targets aberrant (non-stop and multiple-rare-codon containing) mRNAs and does not affect the decay of related messages containing in-frame stop codons. Most surprisingly, RNase II and PNPase do not play a significant role in tmRNA-facilitated disposal of aberrant mRNAs. These findings demonstrate that RNase R is a crucial component of the trans-translation-mediated non-stop mRNA decay process, thus providing a requisite activity well suited to complement the ribosome rescue and protein tagging functions of this unique quality control system.

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