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J Biol Chem. 2009 Oct 16;284(42):28746-53. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.032904. Epub 2009 Aug 18.

MqsR, a crucial regulator for quorum sensing and biofilm formation, is a GCU-specific mRNA interferase in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Biochemistry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


The mqsR gene has been shown to be positively regulated by the quorum-sensing autoinducer AI-2, which in turn activates a two-component system, the qseB-qseC operon. This operon plays an important role in biofilm formation in Escherichia coli. However, its cellular function has remained unknown. Here, we found that 1 base downstream of mqsR there is a gene, ygiT, that is co-transcribed with mqsR. Induction of mqsR caused cell growth arrest, whereas ygiT co-induction recovered cell growth. We demonstrate that MqsR (98 amino acid residues), which has no homology to the well characterized mRNA interferase MazF, is a potent inhibitor of protein synthesis that functions by degrading cellular mRNAs. In vivo and in vitro primer extension experiments showed that MqsR is an mRNA interferase specifically cleaving mRNAs at GCU. The mRNA interferase activity of purified MqsR was inhibited by purified YgiT (131 residues). MqsR forms a stable 2:1 complex with YgiT, and the complex likely functions as a repressor for the mqsR-ygiT operon by specifically binding to two different palindromic sequences present in the 5'-untranslated region of this operon.

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