New RNA motifs suggest an expanded scope for riboswitches in bacterial genetic control

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Apr 27;101(17):6421-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0308014101. Epub 2004 Apr 19.


The expression of certain genes involved in fundamental metabolism is regulated by metabolite-binding "riboswitch" elements embedded within their corresponding mRNAs. We have identified at least six additional elements within the Bacillus subtilis genome that exhibit characteristics of riboswitch function (glmS, gcvT, ydaO/yuaA, ykkC/yxkD, ykoK, and yybP/ykoY). These motifs exhibit extensive sequence and secondary-structure conservation among many bacterial species and occur upstream of related genes. The element located upstream of the glmS gene in Gram-positive organisms functions as a metabolite-dependent ribozyme that responds to glucosamine-6-phosphate. Other motifs form complex folded structures when transcribed as RNA molecules and carry intrinsic terminator structures. These findings indicate that riboswitches serve as a major genetic regulatory mechanism for the control of metabolic genes in many microbial species.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / enzymology
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • RNA, Catalytic / chemistry
  • RNA, Catalytic / genetics
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Catalytic