Regulation by transcription attenuation in bacteria: how RNA provides instructions for transcription termination/antitermination decisions

Bioessays. 2002 Aug;24(8):700-7. doi: 10.1002/bies.10125.


Regulation of gene expression by premature termination of transcription, or transcription attenuation, is a common regulatory strategy in bacteria. Various mechanisms of regulating transcription termination have been uncovered, each can be placed in either of two broad categories of termination events. Many mechanisms involve choosing between two alternative hairpin structures in an RNA transcript, with the decision dependent on interactions between ribosome and transcript, tRNA and transcript, or protein and transcript. In other examples, modification of the transcription elongation complex is the crucial event. This article will describe and compare several of these regulatory strategies, and will cite specific examples to illustrate the different mechanisms employed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus / genetics
  • Bacillus / physiology
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Codon
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Codon
  • RNA
  • RNA, Transfer