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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Sep 27;91(20):9223-7.

A tRNA-like structure is present in 10Sa RNA, a small stable RNA from Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Science, Kyoto University, Japan.


We have determined that 10Sa RNA (one of the small stable RNAs found in Escherichia coli) has an interesting structural feature: the 5' end and the 3' end of 10Sa RNA can be arranged in a structure that is equivalent to a half-molecule (acceptor stem and TFC stem-loop) of alanine tRNA of E. coli. Primer-extension analysis of 10Sa RNA extracted from a bacterial mutant with temperature-sensitive RNase P function revealed that the precursor to 10Sa RNA (pre-10Sa RNA) is folded into a pre-tRNA-like structure in vivo such that it can be cleaved by RNase P to generate the 5' end of the mature 10Sa RNA. The purified 10Sa RNA can be charged with alanine in vitro. Disruption of the gene encoding 10Sa RNA (ssrA) caused a reduction in the rate of cell growth, which was especially apparent at 45 degrees C, and a reduction in motility on semisolid agar. These phenotypic characteristics of the deletion strain (delta ssrA) allowed us to investigate the effects of some mutations in 10Sa RNA in vivo, although the exact function of 10Sa RNA still remains unclear. When the G.U pair (G3.U357) in 10Sa RNA, which may be equivalent to the determinant G.U pair of alanine tRNA, was changed to a G.A or G.C pair, the ability to complement the phenotypic mutations of the delta ssrA strain was lost. Furthermore, this inability to complement the mutant phenotypes that was caused by the substitution of the determinant bases by a G.A pair could be overcome by the introduction of a gene encoding alanyl-tRNA synthetase (alaS) on a multicopy plasmid. The evidence suggests that the proposed structural features of 10Sa RNA are indeed manifested in vivo.

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