Many genes involved in amino acid metabolism in Bacillus subtilis and related organisms are regulated by the T box mechanism, a novel transcription termination control system. Expression of each gene in this family depends on binding of a specific uncharged tRNA to the nascent RNA transcript, resulting in readthrough of a termination signal that otherwise attenuates downstream gene expression. tRNA recognition requires pairing of the tRNA anticodon with a single codon, the "Specifier Sequence," in the leader RNA, as well as pairing of the acceptor end of the tRNA to an antiterminator element that competes with formation of the terminator helix;these pairing are necessary but not sufficient for antitermination. tRNAGly-dependent antitermination of the B. subtilis glyQS gene can be reproduced in a purified system, and binding of tRNAGly to glyQS leader RNA results in structural changes throughout the RNA. The ability of T box RNAs to directly and specifically recognize their cognate effector molecule to regulate gene expression places these RNAs in the riboswitch family of regulatory RNAs. The next project period will be directed toward detailed analysis of the molecular mechanism of tRNA-dependent antitermination, and specific tRNA recognition by T box RNAs. We will focus on RNA elements distinct from the known regions of base-pairing, and functional differences between the glyQS model RNA, which represents a natural deletion variant, and the more common complex T box RNAs that contain additional structural elements, the function of which is unknown. We will also investigate the mechanistic difference between T box elements that operate at the level of transcription termination (found primarily in Firmicutes), and those that operate at the level of translation initiation (found primarily in Actinomycetes, including Mycobacterium sp.). Further characterization of the T box mechanism is essential to the long-term goal of developing novel antimicrobial agents that target this mechanism, which is found in many Gram-positive pathogens. The role of RNA as a regulatory molecule has been increasingly appreciated in recent years, and the T box system represents a unique molecular mechanism for RNA-mediated gene regulation, and a new function for tRNA in the cell.

Public Health Relevance

RNA-mediated regulation has recently emerged as a central player in all organisms. This study is directed toward analysis of the T box system, a unique regulatory mechanism in which RNA transcripts directly sense a specific tRNA molecule to control gene expression. The T box mechanism is widely used in Gram-positive bacteria, including important pathogens, to regulate multiple essential genes, and a long-term goal of this work is the identification of novel antimicrobial agents that inactivate this system, therefore preventing growth.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
3R01GM047823-16S1
Application #
8908451
Study Section
Program Officer
Bender, Michael T
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
16
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
Ohio State University
Department
Microbiology/Immun/Virology
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
City
Columbus
State
OH
Country
United States
Zip Code
43210
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Johnson, Christopher M; Manias, Dawn A; Haemig, Heather A H et al. (2010) Direct evidence for control of the pheromone-inducible prgQ operon of Enterococcus faecalis plasmid pCF10 by a countertranscript-driven attenuation mechanism. J Bacteriol 192:1634-42
Green, Nicholas J; Grundy, Frank J; Henkin, Tina M (2010) The T box mechanism: tRNA as a regulatory molecule. FEBS Lett 584:318-24
Smith, Angela M; Fuchs, Ryan T; Grundy, Frank J et al. (2010) Riboswitch RNAs: regulation of gene expression by direct monitoring of a physiological signal. RNA Biol 7:104-10
Wang, Jiachen; Henkin, Tina M; Nikonowicz, Edward P (2010) NMR structure and dynamics of the Specifier Loop domain from the Bacillus subtilis tyrS T box leader RNA. Nucleic Acids Res 38:3388-98
Henkin, Tina M (2009) Analysis of tRNA-directed transcription antitermination in the T box system in vivo. Methods Mol Biol 540:281-90
Henkin, Tina M (2009) RNA-dependent RNA switches in bacteria. Methods Mol Biol 540:207-14
Gutierrez-Preciado, Ana; Henkin, Tina M; Grundy, Frank J et al. (2009) Biochemical features and functional implications of the RNA-based T-box regulatory mechanism. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 73:36-61
Artsimovitch, Irina; Henkin, Tina M (2009) In vitro approaches to analysis of transcription termination. Methods 47:37-43

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