Hfq: The Flexible RNA Matchmaker

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2016 Apr;30:133-138. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2016.02.003. Epub 2016 Feb 22.


The RNA chaperone protein Hfq is critical to the function of small, base pairing RNAs in many bacteria. In the past few years, structures and modeling of wild type Hfq and assays of various mutants have documented that the homohexameric Hfq ring can contact RNA at four sites (proximal face, distal face, rim and C-terminal tail) and that different RNAs bind to these sites in various configurations. These studies together with novel in vitro and in vivo experimental approaches are beginning to give mechanistic insights into how Hfq acts to promote small RNA-mRNA pairing and indicate that flexibility is integral to the Hfq role in RNA matchmaking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Base Pairing
  • Host Factor 1 Protein / genetics
  • Host Factor 1 Protein / metabolism*
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Host Factor 1 Protein
  • RNA, Bacterial