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Effects on mRNA degradation by Escherichia coli transcription termination factor Rho and pBR322 copy number control protein Rop

Effects on mRNA degradation by Escherichia coli transcription termination factor Rho and pBR322 copy number control protein Rop

Journal of Molecular Biology 268(4): 689-703

ISSN/ISBN: 0022-2836

PMID: 9175854

DOI: 10.1006/jmbi.1997.1004

Mutants in Escherichia coli transcription termination factor Rho, termed rho(nusD), were previously isolated based on their ability to block the growth of bacteriophage T4. Here we show that rho(nusD) strains have decreased average half-lives for bulk cellular mRNA. Decreased E. coli message lifetimes could be because of increased ribonuclease activity in the rho mutant cells: if a Rho-dependent terminator precedes a ribonuclease gene, weaker termination in the rho mutants could lead to nuclease overexpression. However, inactivation of ribonuclease genes in rho026 cells did not relieve the defective phage growth. Unexpectedly, expression of the pBR322 Rop protein, a structure-specific, sequence-independent RNA-binding protein, in rho(nusD) cells restored the ability of T4 to grow and prolonged cellular message half-life in both the wild-type and the rho026 mutant. These results suggest that it is the RNA-binding ability of Rho rather than its transcription termination function that is important for the inhibition of bacteriophage growth and the shorter bulk mRNA lifetime. We propose that altered interaction of the mutant Rho with mRNA could make the RNA more susceptible to degradation. The inability of the RNA-binding proteins SrmB and DeaD to reverse the rho mutant phenotype when each is overexpressed implies that the required RNA interactions are specific. The results show novel roles for Rho and Rop in mRNA stability.

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Accession: 008586859

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