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Microbiol Spectr. 2018 Mar;6(2). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.RWR-0009-2017.

Global Regulation by CsrA and Its RNA Antagonists.

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Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.


The sequence-specific RNA binding protein CsrA is employed by diverse bacteria in the posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression. Its binding interactions with RNA have been documented at atomic resolution and shown to alter RNA secondary structure, RNA stability, translation, and/or Rho-mediated transcription termination through a growing number of molecular mechanisms. In Gammaproteobacteria, small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) that contain multiple CsrA binding sites compete with mRNA for binding to CsrA, thereby sequestering and antagonizing this protein. Both the synthesis and turnover of these sRNAs are regulated, allowing CsrA activity to be rapidly and efficiently adjusted in response to nutritional conditions and stresses. Feedback loops between the Csr regulatory components improve the dynamics of signal response by the Csr system. The Csr system of Escherichia coli is intimately interconnected with other global regulatory systems, permitting it to contribute to regulation by those systems. In some species, a protein antagonist of CsrA functions as part of a checkpoint for flagellum biosynthesis. In other species, a protein antagonist participates in a mechanism in which a type III secretion system is used for sensing interactions with host cells. Recent transcriptomics studies reveal vast effects of CsrA on gene expression through direct binding to hundreds of mRNAs, and indirectly through its effects on the expression of dozens of transcription factors. CsrA binding to base-pairing sRNAs and novel mRNA segments, such as the 3' untranslated region and deep within coding regions, predict its participation in yet-to-be-discovered regulatory mechanisms.

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