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PLoS Genet. 2012;8(6):e1002666. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002666. Epub 2012 Jun 7.

The mechanism for RNA recognition by ANTAR regulators of gene expression.

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Department of Biochemistry, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA.


ANTAR proteins are widespread bacterial regulatory proteins that have RNA-binding output domains and utilize antitermination to control gene expression at the post-initiation level. An ANTAR protein, EutV, regulates the ethanolamine-utilization genes (eut) in Enterococcus faecalis. Using this system, we present genetic and biochemical evidence of a general mechanism of antitermination used by ANTARs, including details of the antiterminator structure. The novel antiterminator structure consists of two small hairpins with highly conserved terminal loop residues, both features being essential for successful antitermination. The ANTAR protein dimerizes and associates with its substrate RNA in response to signal-induced phosphorylation. Furthermore, bioinformatic searches using this conserved antiterminator motif identified many new ANTAR target RNAs in phylogenetically diverse bacterial species, some comprising complex regulons. Despite the unrelatedness of the species in which they are found, the majority of the ANTAR-associated genes are thematically related to nitrogen management. These data suggest that the central tenets for gene regulation by ANTAR antitermination occur widely in nature to specifically control nitrogen metabolism.

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