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Cell. 1988 Feb 26;52(4):609-19.

An intercistronic stem-loop structure functions as an mRNA decay terminator necessary but insufficient for puf mRNA stability.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


Segmental differences in stability within the polycistronic transcripts of the puf operon contribute to differential expression of photosynthesis genes in R. capsulatus. The comparatively stable 5' segment of these transcripts ends in a large intercistronic stem-loop structure. We show here that deletion of this RNA hairpin destabilizes the 5' puf mRNA segment but that its insertion at the 3' end of the puf operon transcripts fails to stabilize the labile 3' puf mRNA segment. Evidence is presented that decay of the 3' segment begins with endonucleolytic cleavage in which the intercistronic stem-loop structure does not participate. We conclude that this RNA hairpin is necessary but insufficient for the stability of mRNA upstream of it, and that it functions in message degradation solely as an mRNA decay terminator that protects upstream mRNA segments from degradation by 3' exoribonucleases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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