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Gene. 1998 May 28;212(1):57-65.

Polyadenylation of oop RNA in the regulation of bacteriophage lambda development.

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Department of Molecular Biology, University of Gdańsk, Poland.


We have shown that Escherichia coli pcnB mutants are lysogenized by bacteriophage lambda with lower efficiency as compared to the pcnB+ strains. Our genetic analysis revealed that expression of the lambda cII gene is decreased in the pcnB mutants. However, using various lacZ fusions we demonstrated that neither activities of pL and pR promoters nor transcription termination at tR1 were significantly impaired in the pcnB- host. On the other hand, we found that oop RNA, an antisense RNA for cII expression, is involved in this regulation. Primer protection experiments revealed that oop RNA was polyadenylated and that this polyadenylation was impaired in the pcnB mutant. We found that the oop RNA was more abundant in the pcnB mutant than in the pcnB+ strain. Furthermore, we showed that activity of the pO promoter was not stimulated in the pcnB mutant. Such findings indicated that degradation of oop RNA in the pcnB strain was slower because of inefficient polyadenylation, which could lead to more effective inhibition of cII expression by the antisense oop RNA, resulting in less efficient lysogenization of the host. The oop RNA was found previously to play a role in phage lambda development only under conditions of overproduction of this transcript. Here we demonstrate for the first time, the physiological function of oop RNA in lambda development, confirming that this short transcript plays an important role in the negative regulation of cII gene expression during lambda infection. Moreover, polyadenylation of oop RNA is one of very few known examples of specific RNA polyadenylation by PAP I in prokaryotic cells and its role in gene expression regulation.

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