An unstructured 5'-coding region of the prfA mRNA is required for efficient translation

Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Feb;40(4):1818-27. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr850. Epub 2011 Nov 3.


Expression of virulence factors in the human bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes is almost exclusively regulated by the transcriptional activator PrfA. The translation of prfA is controlled by a thermosensor located in the 5'-untranslated RNA (UTR), and is high at 37°C and low at temperatures <30°C. In order to develop a thermoregulated translational expression system, the 5'-UTR and different lengths of the prfA-coding sequences were placed in front of lacZ. When expressed in Escherichia coli, the β-galactosidase expression was directly correlated to the length of the prfA-coding mRNA lying in front of lacZ. A similar effect was detected with gfp as a reporter gene in both L. monocytogenes and E. coli, emphasizing the requirement of the prfA-coding RNA for maximal expression. In vitro transcription/translation and mutational analysis suggests a role for the first 20 codons of the native prfA-mRNA for maximal expression. By toe-print and RNA-probing analysis, a flexible hairpin-loop located immediately downstream of the start-codon was shown to be important for ribosomal binding. The present work determines the importance of an unstructured part of the 5'-coding region of the prfA-mRNA for efficient translation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Codon*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Listeria monocytogenes / genetics
  • Listeria monocytogenes / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Peptide Termination Factors / biosynthesis
  • Peptide Termination Factors / genetics*
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Protein Stability
  • RNA Stability
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / chemistry
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Codon
  • Peptide Termination Factors
  • PrfA protein, Listeria monocytogenes
  • RNA, Messenger