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Genes Dev. 2012 Apr 1;26(7):726-39. doi: 10.1101/gad.182493.111.

Noncanonical repression of translation initiation through small RNA recruitment of the RNA chaperone Hfq.

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RNA Group, Department of Biochemistry, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec J1H 5N4, Canada.


The RNA chaperone Hfq is mostly known to help small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) interact with target mRNAs to block initiating ribosomes. In this model, whereas the sRNA is directly competing with initiating 30S ribosomal subunits, Hfq plays only an indirect role, allowing optimal sRNA-mRNA pairing. Here we report that Hfq is recruited by a sRNA, Spot42, to bind to a precise AU-rich region in the vicinity of the translation initiation region (TIR) of sdhC mRNA and competes directly with 30S ribosomal subunits. We show that the sRNA Spot42 binds sdhC too far upstream of the TIR to directly repress translation initiation in vitro and in vivo. Contrary to the canonical model of sRNA regulation, this suggests a new mechanism where Hfq is directly involved in the translational repression of the target mRNA and where the sRNA acts only as a recruitment factor.

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