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EMBO J. 1989 Dec 20;8(13):4297-305.

The unusual stability of the IS10 anti-sense RNA is critical for its function and is determined by the structure of its stem-domain.

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Department of Microbiology, University of California, Los Angeles 90024.


IS10 transposition is regulated by an approximately 70 nt anti-sense RNA, RNA-OUT. RNA-OUT folds into a duplex 'stem-domain' topped by a loosely paired 'loop-domain'. The loop-domain is critical for RNA-RNA pairing per se; pairing initiates by interaction of the RNA-OUT loop with the 5' end of the target mRNA. We show here that RNA-OUT is unusually stable in vivo (half-life 60 min) and that this stability is conferred by specific features of the RNA-OUT stem-domain. One critical feature is stable base-pairing: mutations that disrupt stem pairing destabilize RNA-OUT in vivo and abolish anti-sense control; combinations of mutations that restore pairing also restore both stability and control. We propose that the stem renders RNA-OUT resistant to 3' exoribonucleases. Other features of the stem-domain prevent this essential duplex from being an effective substrate for double-strand nucleases: two single base mutations disrupt antisense control by making RNA-OUT susceptible to RNase III. Mutations in the loop region have little effect on RNA-OUT stability. Implications for IS10 biology and the design of efficient anti-sense RNAs are discussed.

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