Alternative transcriptional regulation in genome-reduced bacteria

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2017 Oct:39:89-95. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2017.10.022. Epub 2017 Nov 16.


Transcription is a core process of bacterial physiology, and as such it must be tightly controlled, so that bacterial cells maintain steady levels of each RNA molecule in homeostasis and modify them in response to perturbations. The major regulators of transcription in bacteria (and in eukaryotes) are transcription factors. However, in genome-reduced bacteria, the limited number of these proteins is insufficient to explain the variety of responses shown upon changes in their environment. Thus, alternative regulators may play a central role in orchestrating RNA levels in these microorganisms. These alternative mechanisms rely on intrinsic features within DNA and RNA molecules, suggesting they are ancestral mechanisms shared among bacteria that could have an increased relevance on transcriptional regulation in minimal cells. In this review, we summarize the alternative elements that can regulate transcript abundance in genome-reduced bacteria and how they contribute to the RNA homeostasis at different levels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Transcription, Genetic*