Molecular Biology

Januslike RNA

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Science  15 Sep 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5486, pp. 1843
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5486.1843b

The use of multiple protein components, which combine with relatively weak interactions, to achieve a varied and reversible regulation of gene expression is no longer a surprising concept. Lease and Belfort, however, suggest that similar mechanisms involving RNA may exist.

DsrA is a small 87-nucleotide RNA that is predicted to adopt a structure containing three stem-loop motifs; it exerts modulatory effects on the transcriptional regulators H-NS (inhibitory) and RpoS (stimulatory). Structural analysis of the interactions between DsrA and the messenger RNAs (mRNAs) for these two proteins indicate that sequences in the first stem-loop bind to and appear to stabilize the RpoS mRNA, and that sequences in the second stem-loop grab the 5′ and 3′ ends of the H-NS mRNA in a coaxial stack, effectively sequestering it. The capacity of a single molecule to recognize unrelated targets in specific and non-covalent fashion leads immediately to the search for regulators; might these be RNA molecules, too? — GJC Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97, 9919 (2000).

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