The structural and functional diversity of metabolite-binding riboswitches

Annu Rev Biochem. 2009;78:305-34. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.78.070507.135656.


The cellular concentrations of certain metabolites are assiduously monitored to achieve appropriate levels of gene expression. Although proteins have long been known to act as sensors in this capacity, metabolite-binding RNAs, or riboswitches, also play an important role. More than 20 distinct classes of riboswitches have been identified to date, and insights to the molecular recognition strategies of a significant subset of these have been provided by detailed structural studies. This diverse set of metabolite-sensing RNAs is found to exploit a variety of distinct mechanisms to regulate genes that are fundamental to metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / chemistry
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / genetics
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / metabolism
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA, Untranslated / chemistry*
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism*


  • Aptamers, Nucleotide
  • RNA, Untranslated