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Microbiol Spectr. 2018 Sep;6(5). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.RWR-0032-2018.

Dual-Function RNAs.

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Division of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD 20892.
Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.


Bacteria are known to use RNA, either as mRNAs encoding proteins or as noncoding small RNAs (sRNAs), to regulate numerous biological processes. However, a few sRNAs have two functions: they act as base-pairing RNAs and encode a small protein with additional regulatory functions. Thus, these so called "dual-function" sRNAs can serve as both a riboregulator and an mRNA. In some cases, these two functions can act independently within the same pathway, while in other cases, the base-pairing function and protein function act in different pathways. Here, we discuss the five known dual-function sRNAs-SgrS from enteric species, RNAIII and Psm-mec from Staphylococcus aureus, Pel RNA from Streptococcus pyogenes, and SR1 from Bacillus subtilis-and review their mechanisms of action and roles in regulating diverse biological processes. We also discuss the prospect of finding additional dual-function sRNAs and future challenges in studying the overlap and competition between the functions.

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