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Science 314 (5805): 1601-1603

Copyright © 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

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

Karen M. Wassarman1*, and Ruth M. Saecker2

Abstract: 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.

1 Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
2 Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: wassarman{at}bact.wisc.edu


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