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Biochimie. 2011 Nov;93(11):1943-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2011.07.016. Epub 2011 Jul 24.

Dual-function RNA regulators in bacteria.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


The importance of small RNA (sRNA) regulators has been recognized across all domains of life. In bacteria, sRNAs typically control the expression of virulence and stress response genes via antisense base pairing with mRNA targets. Originally dubbed "non-coding RNAs," a number of bacterial antisense sRNAs have been found to encode functional proteins. Although very few of these dual-function sRNAs have been characterized, they have been found in both gram-negative and gram-positive organisms. Among the few known examples, the functions and mechanisms of regulation by dual-function sRNAs are variable. Some dual-function sRNAs depend on the RNA chaperone Hfq for base pairing-dependent regulation (riboregulation); this feature appears so far exclusive to gram-negative bacterial sRNAs. Other variations can be found in the spatial organization of the coding region with respect to the riboregulation determinants. How the functions of encoded proteins relate to riboregulation is for the most part not understood. However, in one case it appears that there is physiological redundancy between protein and riboregulation functions. This mini-review focuses on the two best-studied bacterial dual-function sRNAs: RNAIII from Staphylococcus aureus and SgrS from Escherichia coli and includes a discussion of what is known about the structure, function and physiological roles of these sRNAs as well as what questions remain outstanding.

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