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Mol Microbiol. 1996 Jan;19(2):241-8.

Differential mRNA stability of the cspA gene in the cold-shock response of Escherichia coli.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.


Exposure of bacterial cells to temperature changes induces the synthesis of a set proteins. We investigated the control of expression of the cspA gene, coding for the major cold-shock protein of Escherichia coli. This protein was shown to be transiently induced upon shift to low temperature. We demonstrated that the cspA mRNA is extremely unstable at 37 degrees C with a half-life of approx. 10 s. Upon shift to 15 degrees C cspA mRNA becomes highly stable. This mRNA stability is transient and is lost once the cells are adapted to the low temperature. Transcription fusions of lacZ containing part or most of the cspA gene do not show the rapid degradation at high temperature. Our results suggest that mRNA stability plays a major role in the control of the cspA gene. The expression of cspA is also regulated, to a smaller extent, by the relative increase in transcription after transfer to low temperature. A model by which cspA mRNA is regulated in response to temperature shift is discussed.

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