Regulatory roles for small RNAs in bacteria

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2003 Apr;6(2):120-4. doi: 10.1016/s1369-5274(03)00027-4.


Small RNAs can act to regulate both the synthesis of proteins, by affecting mRNA transcription, translation and stability, and the activity of specific proteins by binding to them. As a result of recent genome-wide screens, around 50 small RNAs have now been identified in Escherichia coli. These include many that require the RNA-binding protein Hfq for their activity; most of these RNAs act by pairing with their target mRNAs. Small RNAs can both positively and negatively regulate translation, can simultaneously regulate multiple mRNA targets, and can change the pattern of polarity within an operon.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Host Factor 1 Protein / genetics
  • Host Factor 1 Protein / metabolism
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • RNA, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Bacterial / physiology*
  • RNA, Untranslated / physiology*
  • Sigma Factor / genetics
  • Sigma Factor / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Hfq protein, E coli
  • Host Factor 1 Protein
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • Sigma Factor
  • sigma factor KatF protein, Bacteria