Regulation of a muralytic enzyme-encoding gene by two non-coding RNAs
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Non-coding regulatory RNAs fine-tune gene expression post-transcriptionally. In the streptomycetes, rpfA - encoding a muralytic enzyme required for establishing and exiting dormancy - is flanked by non-coding regulatory RNA elements both upstream (riboswitch) and downstream [antisense small RNA (sRNA)]. In Streptomyces coelicolor, the upstream riboswitch decreases rpfA transcript abundance in response to the second messenger cyclic di-AMP, itself involved in cell wall metabolism and dormancy. There is, however, no obvious expression platform associated with this riboswitch and consequently, its mechanism of action is entirely unknown. Using in vitro transcription assays, we discovered that the rpfA riboswitch promoted premature transcription termination in response to cyclic di-AMP. Through an extensive mutational analysis, we determined that attenuation required ligand binding and involved an unusual extended stem-loop region unique to a subset of rpfA riboswitches in the actinobacteria. At the other end of the rpfA gene, an antisense sRNA, termed Scr3097, is expressed opposite the predicted rpfA terminator. Using northern blotting, we found that Scr3097 accumulation mirrored that of the rpfA mRNA. In liquid culture, we detected Scr3097 exclusively in exponential-phase cells, and in plate-grown culture, we observed the sRNA primarily in differentiating cultures. Using mutational analyses, we found that the sRNA increased rpfA mRNA abundance in cells. Taken together, our work revealed multiple regulatory RNAs controlling rpfA expression in the streptomycetes.
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