Transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA) is a bifunctional RNA that has properties of a tRNA and an mRNA. tmRNA uses these two functions to release ribosomes stalled during translation and target the nascent polypeptides for degradation. This concerted reaction, known as trans-translation, contributes to translational quality control and regulation of gene expression in bacteria. tmRNA is conserved throughout bacteria, and is one of the most abundant RNAs in the cell, suggesting that trans-translation is of fundamental importance for bacterial fitness. Mutants lacking tmRNA activity typically have severe phenotypes, including defects in viability, virulence, and responses to environmental stresses.
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