Escherichia coli mRNAs with strong Shine/Dalgarno sequences also contain 5' end sequences complementary to domain # 17 on the 16S ribosomal RNA

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Apr 16;316(4):978-83. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2004.02.169.


A well-established feature of the translation initiation region, which attracts the ribosomes to the prokaryotic mRNAs, is a purine rich area called Shine/Dalgarno sequence (SD). There are examples of various other sequences, which despite having no similarity to an SD sequence are capable of enhancing and/or initiating translation. The mechanisms by which these sequences affect translation remain unclear, but a base pairing between mRNA and 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) is proposed to be the likely mechanism. In this study, using a computational approach, we identified a non-SD signal found specifically in the translation initiation regions of Escherichia coli mRNAs, which contain super strong SD sequences. Nine of the 11 E. coli translation initiation regions, which were previously identified for having super strong SD sequences, also contained six or more nucleotides complementary to box-17 on the 16S rRNA (nucleotides 418-554). Mutational analyses of those initiation sequences indicated that when complementarity to box-17 was eliminated, the efficiency of the examined sequences to mediate the translation of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) mRNA was reduced. The results suggest that mRNA sequences with complementarity to box-17 of 16S rRNA may function as enhancers for translation in E. coli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Pairing / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / genetics
  • Protein Biosynthesis / genetics*
  • RNA, Complementary / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*
  • Sequence Alignment / methods
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA / methods*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • RNA, Complementary
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S