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Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Jun 2;45(10):5980-5994. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx296.

Downstream element determines RNase Y cleavage of the saePQRS operon in Staphylococcus aureus.

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Interfaculty Institute of Microbiology and Infection Medicine, University of Tübingen, Tübingen 72076, Germany.


In gram-positive bacteria, RNase J1, RNase J2 and RNase Y are thought to be major contributors to mRNA degradation and maturation. In Staphylococcus aureus, RNase Y activity is restricted to regulating the mRNA decay of only certain transcripts. Here the saePQRS operon was used as a model to analyze RNase Y specificity in living cells. A RNase Y cleavage site is located in an intergenic region between saeP and saeQ. This cleavage resulted in rapid degradation of the upstream fragment and stabilization of the downstream fragment. Thereby, the expression ratio of the different components of the operon was shifted towards saeRS, emphasizing the regulatory role of RNase Y activity. To assess cleavage specificity different regions surrounding the sae CS were cloned upstream of truncated gfp, and processing was analyzed in vivo using probes up- and downstream of CS. RNase Y cleavage was not determined by the cleavage site sequence. Instead a 24-bp double-stranded recognition structure was identified that was required to initiate cleavage 6 nt upstream. The results indicate that RNase Y activity is determined by secondary structure recognition determinants, which guide cleavage from a distance.

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