Bacterial small RNAs (sRNAs) have been implicated in various aspects of post-transcriptional gene regulation. Here, we demonstrate that sRNAs also act at the level of transcription termination. We use the rpoS gene, which encodes a general stress sigma factor σS, as a model system, and show that sRNAs DsrA, ArcZ, and RprA bind the rpoS 5′UTR to suppress premature Rho-dependent transcription termination, both in vitro and in vivo. sRNA-mediated antitermination markedly stimulates transcription of rpoS during the transition to the stationary phase of growth, thereby facilitating a rapid adjustment of bacteria to global metabolic changes. Next generation RNA sequencing and bioinformatic analysis indicate that Rho functions as a global “attenuator” of transcription, acting at the 5′UTR of hundreds of bacterial genes, and that its suppression by sRNAs is a widespread mode of bacterial gene regulation.
Sedlyarova, N., Shamovsky, I., Bharati, B. K., Epshtein, V., Chen, J., Gottesman, S., … Nudler, E. (2016). sRNA-Mediated Control of Transcription Termination in E. coli. Cell, 167(1), 111-121.e13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2016.09.004