Mix-and-match riboswitches

ACS Chem Biol. 2006 Dec 15;1(12):751-4. doi: 10.1021/cb600458w.


Riboswitches are noncoding RNA elements found in the 5'-untranslated region of messenger RNA (mRNA) that mediate gene expression in a cis fashion in the absence of protein. This common regulatory strategy in bacteria is achieved through the interplay of two distinct domains: an aptamer domain responsible for sensing intracellular concentrations of a specific metabolite and a domain containing a secondary structural switch directly controlling expression. In a recent study, riboswitches have been discovered that are capable of regulating transcription by using an RNA architecture mimicking a Boolean NOR logic gate. Tandem arrangement of elements that recognize S-adenosylmethionine and coenzyme B12 yields an mRNA that is only expressed when both metabolites are in low concentration in the cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 5' Untranslated Regions / genetics*
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Genes, Switch / genetics*
  • Ligands
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Regulatory Sequences, Ribonucleic Acid / genetics*
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / genetics


  • 5' Untranslated Regions
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide
  • Ligands
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • Regulatory Sequences, Ribonucleic Acid
  • S-Adenosylmethionine