Gene autoregulation by 3' UTR-derived bacterial small RNAs

Elife. 2020 Aug 3;9:e58836. doi: 10.7554/eLife.58836.


Negative feedback regulation, that is the ability of a gene to repress its own synthesis, is the most abundant regulatory motif known to biology. Frequently reported for transcriptional regulators, negative feedback control relies on binding of a transcription factor to its own promoter. Here, we report a novel mechanism for gene autoregulation in bacteria relying on small regulatory RNA (sRNA) and the major endoribonuclease, RNase E. TIER-seq analysis (transiently-inactivating-an-endoribonuclease-followed-by-RNA-seq) revealed ~25,000 RNase E-dependent cleavage sites in Vibrio cholerae, several of which resulted in the accumulation of stable sRNAs. Focusing on two examples, OppZ and CarZ, we discovered that these sRNAs are processed from the 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) of the oppABCDF and carAB operons, respectively, and base-pair with their own transcripts to inhibit translation. For OppZ, this process also triggers Rho-dependent transcription termination. Our data show that sRNAs from 3' UTRs serve as autoregulatory elements allowing negative feedback control at the post-transcriptional level.

Keywords: E. coli; Hfq; RNase E; Vibrio cholerae; autoregulation; chromosomes; gene expression; infectious disease; microbiology; small RNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions / physiology*
  • Endoribonucleases / metabolism
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Bacterial / physiology*
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / physiology*
  • RNA-Seq
  • Rho Factor / metabolism
  • Terminator Regions, Genetic
  • Vibrio cholerae / enzymology
  • Vibrio cholerae / genetics*


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Small Untranslated
  • Rho Factor
  • Endoribonucleases
  • ribonuclease E

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE144478
  • GEO/GSE148675
  • GEO/GSE144479