The production and removal of regulatory RNAs must be controlled to ensure proper physiological responses. SsrA RNA (tmRNA), a regulatory RNA conserved in all bacteria, is cell cycle regulated and is important for control of cell cycle progression in Caulobacter crescentus. We report that RNase R, a highly conserved 3′ to 5′ exoribonuclease, is required for the selective degradation of SsrA RNA in stalked cells. Purified RNase R degrades SsrA RNA in vitro, and is kinetically competent to account for all SsrA RNA turnover. SmpB, a tmRNA-binding protein, protects SsrA RNA from RNase R degradation in vitro, and the levels of SmpB protein during the cell cycle correlate with SsrA RNA stability. These results suggest that SmpB binding controls the timing of SsrA RNA degradation by RNase R. We propose a model for the regulated degradation of SsrA RNA in which RNase R degrades SsrA RNA from a non-tRNA-like 3′ end, and SmpB specifically protects SsrA RNA from RNase R. This model explains the regulation of SsrA RNA in other bacteria, and suggests that a highly conserved regulatory mechanism controls SsrA activity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology