An internal antisense RNA regulates expression of the photosynthesis gene isiA

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 May 2;103(18):7054-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0600927103. Epub 2006 Apr 24.


Small regulatory noncoding RNAs exist in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. Most of these RNA transcripts are trans-encoded RNAs with short and only partial antisense complementarity to their target RNAs, which regulate gene expression by modifying mRNA stability and translation. In contrast, reports on the function of cis-encoded, perfectly complementary antisense RNAs in eubacteria are rare. Cyanobacteria respond to iron deficiency by expressing IsiA (iron stress-induced protein A), which forms a giant ring structure around photosystem I. Here, we show that this process is controlled by IsrR (iron stress-repressed RNA), a cis-encoded antisense RNA transcribed from the isiA noncoding strand. Artificial overexpression of IsrR under iron stress causes a strongly diminished number of IsiA-photosystem I supercomplexes, whereas IsrR depletion results in premature expression of IsiA. The coupled degradation of IsrR/isiA mRNA duplexes appears to be a reversible switch that can respond to environmental changes. IsrR is the only RNA known so far to regulate a photosynthesis component.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins* / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins* / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes* / genetics
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes* / metabolism
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Photosynthesis / genetics*
  • Photosynthesis / physiology
  • RNA, Antisense / chemistry
  • RNA, Antisense / genetics
  • RNA, Antisense / metabolism*
  • Synechocystis / genetics
  • Synechocystis / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes
  • RNA, Antisense
  • chlorophyll A binding protein CP43, Cyanobacteria
  • Iron