Synthesis-Mediated Release of a Small RNA Inhibitor of RNA Polymerase

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Science  08 Dec 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5805, pp. 1601-1603
DOI: 10.1126/science.1134830

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Noncoding small RNAs regulate gene expression in all organisms, in some cases through direct association with RNA polymerase (RNAP). Here we report that the mechanism of 6S RNA inhibition of transcription is through specific, stable interactions with the active site of Escherichia coli RNAP that exclude promoter DNA binding. In fact, the DNA-dependent RNAP uses bound 6S RNA as a template for RNA synthesis, producing 14-to 20-nucleotide RNA products (pRNA). These results demonstrate that 6S RNA is functionally engaged in the active site of RNAP. Synthesis of pRNA destabilizes 6S RNA–RNAP complexes leading to release of the pRNA-6S RNA hybrid. In vivo, 6S RNA–directed RNA synthesis occurs during outgrowth from the stationary phase and likely is responsible for liberating RNAP from 6S RNA in response to nutrient availability.

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