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Gene. 2009 Jan 1;428(1-2):2-8. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2008.09.024. Epub 2008 Oct 2.

Novel small RNA-encoding genes in the intergenic regions of Bacillus subtilis.

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Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tennoudai 1-1-1, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


Small, non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) perform diverse functions in a variety of organisms, but few ncRNAs have been identified in Bacillus subtilis. To search the B. subtilis genome for genes encoding ncRNAs, we focused on 123 intergenic regions (IGRs) over 500 bp in length and analyzed expression from these regions. Seven IGRs termed bsrC, bsrD, bsrE, bsrF, bsrG, bsrH and bsrI expressed RNAs smaller than 380 nt. All small RNAs except BsrD RNA were expressed in transformed Escherichia coli cells harboring a plasmid with PCR-amplified IGRs of B. subtilis, indicating that their own promoters independently express small RNAs. Under the non-stressed condition, depletion of the genes for the small RNAs did not affect growth. Although their functions are unknown, gene expression profiles at several time points showed that most of the genes except for bsrD were expressed during the vegetative phase (4-6 h), but undetectable during the stationary phase (8 h). Mapping the 5' ends of the 6 small RNAs revealed that the genes for BsrE, BsrF, BsrG, BsrH, and BsrI RNAs are preceded by a recognition site for RNA polymerase sigma factor sigma(A). These small RNAs might lack an SD sequence and exert their actions as ncRNAs.

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