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Mol Microbiol. 1997 Oct;26(2):311-20.

Sok antisense RNA from plasmid R1 is functionally inactivated by RNase E and polyadenylated by poly(A) polymerase I.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Odense University, Odense M, Denmark.


The hok/sok system of plasmid R1, which mediates plasmid stabilization by the killing of plasmid-free cells, codes for two RNA species, Sok antisense RNA and hok mRNA. Sok RNA, which is unstable, inhibits translation of the stable hok mRNA. The 64nt Sok RNA folds into a single stem-loop domain with an 11 nt unstructured 5' domain. The initial recognition reaction between Sok RNA and hok mRNA takes place between the 5' domain and the complementary region in hok mRNA. In this communication we examine the metabolism of Sok antisense RNA. We find that RNase E cleaves the RNA 6nt from its 5' end and that this cleavage initiates Sok RNA decay. The RNase E cleavage occurs in the part of Sok RNA that is responsible for the initial recognition of the target loop in hok mRNA and thus leads to functional inactivation of the antisense. The major RNase E cleavage product (denoted pSok-6) is rapidly degraded by polynucleotide phosphorylase (PNPase). Thus, the RNase E cleavage tags pSok-6 for further rapid degradation by PNPase from its 3' end. We also show that Sok RNA is polyadenylated by poly(A) polymerase I (PAP I), and that the poly(A)-tailing is prerequisite for the rapid 3'-exonucleolytic degradation by PNPase.

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