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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2011 Dec 25;19(1):105-12. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2193.

A cis-antisense RNA acts in trans in Staphylococcus aureus to control translation of a human cytolytic peptide.

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Laboratoire de Biochimie Pharmaceutique Inserm U835 Upres EA2311 Université de Rennes, Rennes, France.


Antisense RNAs (asRNAs) pair to RNAs expressed from the complementary strand, and their functions are thought to depend on nucleotide overlap with genes on the opposite strand. There is little information on the roles and mechanisms of asRNAs. We show that a cis asRNA acts in trans, using a domain outside its target complementary sequence. SprA1 small regulatory RNA (sRNA) and SprA1(AS) asRNA are concomitantly expressed in S. aureus. SprA1(AS) forms a complex with SprA1, preventing translation of the SprA1-encoded open reading frame by occluding translation initiation signals through pairing interactions. The SprA1 peptide sequence is within two RNA pseudoknots. SprA1(AS) represses production of the SprA1-encoded cytolytic peptide in trans, as its overlapping region is dispensable for regulation. These findings demonstrate that sometimes asRNA functional domains are not their gene-target complementary sequences, suggesting there is a need for mechanistic re-evaluation of asRNAs expressed in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

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