Learning from the Leaders: Gene Regulation by the Transcription Termination Factor Rho

Trends Biochem Sci. 2016 Aug;41(8):690-699. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2016.05.012. Epub 2016 Jun 17.


The RNA helicase Rho triggers 20-30% of transcription termination events in bacteria. While Rho is associated with most transcription elongation complexes, it only promotes termination of a subset. Recent studies of individual Rho-dependent terminators located within the 5' leader regions of bacterial mRNAs have identified novel mechanisms that govern Rho target specificity and have revealed unanticipated physiological functions for Rho. In particular, the multistep nature of Rho-dependent termination enables regulatory input from determinants beyond the sequence of the Rho loading site, and allows a given Rho-dependent terminator to respond to multiple signals. Further, the unique position of Rho as a sensor of cellular translation has been exploited to regulate the transcription of genes required for protein synthesis, including those specifying Mg(2+) transporters.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Rho Factor / metabolism*
  • Transcription Termination, Genetic*


  • RNA, Bacterial
  • Rho Factor