Biological consequences of segmental alterations in mRNA stability: effects of deletion of the intercistronic hairpin loop region of the Rhodobacter capsulatus puf operon

EMBO J. 1987 Nov;6(11):3515-20. doi: 10.1002/j.1460-2075.1987.tb02677.x.


It has been proposed that intercistronic stem and loop structures located in the puf operon of the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter capsulatus account for segmental differences in transcript stability and consequently, the differential expression of the B870 and reaction center (RC) proteins encoded by puf. We report here that deletion of these structures leads to a failure to detect as discrete fragments the B870-encoding 0.49 kb and 0.50 kb mRNA segments located upstream from the site of the hairpins. The absence of these stable transcript fragments is associated with altered stoichiometry of the B870 and RC pigment-protein complexes in the bacterial intracytoplasmic membrane and a decreased rate of cell growth under photosynthetic conditions. These results support the view that the hairpin loop structures of the puf intercistronic region function in vivo to impede exoribonucleolytic degradation of upstream mRNA and establish that segmental variations in mRNA stability have a biologically important role in regulating the expression of puf operon genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosome Deletion*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Genes*
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Genotype
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Operon*
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • Rhodopseudomonas / genetics*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Messenger