RNA thermometers in bacteria: Role in thermoregulation

Biochim Biophys Acta Gene Regul Mech. 2022 Oct;1865(7):194871. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2022.194871. Epub 2022 Aug 28.


An array of external factors, an important one being temperature, decide the fate of survival in a microbe. The ability of microbes to sense external cues and to regulate the expression of genes accordingly is critical for its likely survival. Among a myriad of cellular defence mechanisms, a strategy to recuperate stress involves RNA regulatory elements. RNAs own a repertoire of functions in a cell as messengers, for transfer or as a component of ribosomes. A shift from its indigenous role is as regulators of gene expression, where in the cis-encoded RNA termed as "RNA Thermometers" play a pivotal role in translational level of gene expression. In this paper, we review the occurrence, the different types and molecular mechanism of gene regulation by RNATs, with a special focus limited to the domain Bacteria. We discuss the role of RNATs in mediating expression of temperature-responsive genes like heat shock/cold attributing in heat/cold shock response and a cascade of virulence genes to evade host defence mechanisms.

Keywords: Cis-acting regulatory elements; Cold shock proteins; Gene regulation; Heat shock proteins; RNA thermometers; ROSE elements.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Body Temperature Regulation / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • RNA, Bacterial* / genetics
  • RNA, Bacterial* / metabolism
  • Thermometers


  • RNA, Bacterial