Despite similar binding to the Hfq protein regulatory RNAs widely differ in their competition performance

Biochemistry. 2011 May 31;50(21):4427-40. doi: 10.1021/bi102043f. Epub 2011 May 3.


The binding of nine noncoding regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) to the E. coli Hfq protein was compared using a high-throughput double filter retention assay. Despite the fact that these sRNAs have different lengths, sequences and secondary structures their Hfq binding affinities were surprisingly uniform. The analysis of sRNAs binding to Hfq mutants showed that the proximal face of Hfq, known as the binding site for DsrA RNA, is a universal sRNA binding site. Moreover, all sRNAs bound Hfq with similar association rates limited only by the rate of diffusion, while the rates of dissociation, measured in the dilution experiments, were uniformly slow. Despite that, the data showed that there was a hierarchy of sRNAs in regard to their performance in competition for access to Hfq and in their ability to facilitate the dissociation of other sRNAs from Hfq. The sRNAs also differed in their salt dependence of binding to this protein. Overall, the results suggest that despite the uniform binding of different sRNAs to the same site on Hfq their exchange on this protein is dependent on the identities of the competing sRNAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics*
  • Host Factor 1 Protein / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism*


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Hfq protein, E coli
  • Host Factor 1 Protein
  • RNA, Bacterial