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Nucleic Acids Res. 2007;35(3):1018-37. Epub 2007 Jan 30.

Translational control and target recognition by Escherichia coli small RNAs in vivo.

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Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, RNA Biology Group, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany.


Small non-coding RNAs (sRNAs) are an emerging class of regulators of bacterial gene expression. Most of the regulatory Escherichia coli sRNAs known to date modulate translation of trans-encoded target mRNAs. We studied the specificity of sRNA target interactions using gene fusions to green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a novel reporter of translational control by bacterial sRNAs in vivo. Target sequences were selected from both monocistronic and polycistronic mRNAs. Upon expression of the cognate sRNA (DsrA, GcvB, MicA, MicC, MicF, RprA, RyhB, SgrS and Spot42), we observed highly specific translation repression/activation of target fusions under various growth conditions. Target regulation was also tested in mutants that lacked Hfq or RNase III, or which expressed a truncated RNase E (rne701). We found that translational regulation by these sRNAs was largely independent of full-length RNase E, e.g. despite the fact that ompA fusion mRNA decay could no longer be promoted by MicA. This is the first study in which multiple well-defined E.coli sRNA target pairs have been studied in a uniform manner in vivo. We expect our GFP fusion approach to be applicable to sRNA targets of other bacteria, and also demonstrate that Vibrio RyhB sRNA represses a Vibrio sodB fusion when co-expressed in E.coli.

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