CsfG, a sporulation-specific, small non-coding RNA highly conserved in endospore formers

RNA Biol. 2011 May-Jun;8(3):358-64. doi: 10.4161/rna.8.3.14998. Epub 2011 May 1.


Endospore formation is a characteristic shared by some Bacilli and Clostridia that involves the creation of two cell types, the forespore and the mother cell. Hundreds of protein-encoding genes have been shown to be transcribed in a cell-specific fashion during this developmental process in Bacillus subtilis. We have used a phylogenetic profiling procedure to identify clusters of B. subtilis coding and non-coding sequences that co-occur in other endospore formers. One such cluster shows a strong bias for sporulation-related genes (42 % among 156 genes) and is enriched in potential non-coding RNAs. We have studied one RNA candidate, encoded in the ylbG-ylbH interval. In vivo analysis using a transcriptional fusion to the Escherichia coli lacZ gene demonstrates that this region of the chromosome contains a gene, csfG, encoding a 147-nucleotide RNA that is transcribed only during sporulation, specifically in the forespore. csfG is present in many endospore formers, mostly Bacilli and some Clostridia, whereas it is absent from bacteria that do not produce endospores. All CsfG RNAs contain a strongly conserved, pyrimidine-rich, central motif that overlaps a potential stem-loop structure. The remarkable conservation of this sequence in widely divergent bacteria suggests that it plays a conserved physiological role, presumably by interacting with an unidentified target in the forespore, where it contributes to the acquisition of the spore properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Bacillus subtilis / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • Clostridium / genetics
  • Clostridium / metabolism
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / chemistry*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Spores, Bacterial / genetics
  • Spores, Bacterial / metabolism


  • RNA, Small Untranslated