Control of transcription termination in bacteria by RNA-binding proteins that modulate RNA structures

Arch Microbiol. 2002 Jun;177(6):433-40. doi: 10.1007/s00203-002-0407-5. Epub 2002 Apr 3.


During the past few years, our knowledge of gene regulation by RNA-binding proteins has greatly increased. RNA-binding proteins are involved in processes such as protection of RNAs from RNase degradation, prevention of ribosome binding to mRNA, control of formation of secondary structures of the mRNA that permit or prevent translation initiation, and termination/antitermination of transcription in response to external signals. Modulation of transcription termination by RNA-binding proteins involves the formation of alternative structures. One of the structures can act as a transcriptional terminator, while adoption of the alternative structure prevents formation of the terminator and does thus result in transcript elongation. Which of the two structures prevails under a given condition depends on two factors: the intrinsic stability of the alternative structures and the stabilization of one of both by an RNA-binding regulatory protein. Binding of a protein to the nascent mRNA may result in transcript elongation, as is the case for cold-shock proteins or in several catabolic operons. The RNA-binding ability of the RNA-binding proteins is modulated by direct interaction with the inducer, by protein-protein interactions with sensor proteins or by protein phosphorylation. In contrast, in the pyrimidine or tryptophan biosynthetic operons of Bacillus subtilis, the transcriptional terminators are stabilized by RNA-binding proteins resulting in the absence of expression of these operons.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / enzymology
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Chaperones / genetics
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Regulon / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Nitrogen