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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2008 Dec;11(6):574-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2008.09.016. Epub 2008 Nov 18.

Small RNAs establish gene expression thresholds.

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Center for Theoretical Biological Physics and Department of Physics, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, United States.


The central role of small RNAs in regulating bacterial gene expression has been elucidated in the past years. Typically, small RNAs act via specific basepairing with target mRNAs, leading to modulation of translation initiation and mRNA stability. Quantitative studies suggest that small RNA regulation is characterized by unique features, which allow it to complement regulation at the transcriptional level. In particular, small RNAs are shown to establish a threshold for the expression of their target, providing safety mechanism against random fluctuations and transient signals. The threshold level is set by the transcription rate of the small RNA and can thus be modulated dynamically to reflect changing environmental conditions.

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