Riboswitches and the role of noncoding RNAs in bacterial metabolic control

Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2005 Dec;9(6):594-602. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2005.09.016. Epub 2005 Oct 13.


Microorganisms use a plethora of genetic strategies to regulate expression of their genes. In recent years there has been an increase in the discovery and characterization of riboswitches, cis-acting regulatory RNAs that function as direct receptors for intracellular metabolites. Nine classes have been uncovered that together regulate many essential biochemical pathways. Two classes, responding to either glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN6P) or glycine, have been found to employ novel mechanisms of genetic control. Additionally, progress has been achieved in elucidating molecular details for regulation by the other riboswitches, via X-ray crystallography and biochemical analyses of riboswitch-metabolite interactions. The complete repertoire of metabolite-sensing RNAs and extent of their usage in modern organisms remains to be determined; however, these current data assist in establishing a foundation from which to build future expectations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics*
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism*


  • RNA, Untranslated