Dual role of transcription and transcript stability in the regulation of gene expression in Escherichia coli cells cultured on glucose at different growth rates

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Abstract

Microorganisms extensively reorganize gene expression to adjust growth rate to changes in growth conditions. At the genomic scale, we measured the contribution of both transcription and transcript stability to regulating messenger RNA (mRNA) concentration in Escherichia coli. Transcriptional control was the dominant regulatory process. Between growth rates of 0.10 and 0.63 h(-1), there was a generic increase in the bulk mRNA transcription. However, many transcripts became less stable and the median mRNA half-life decreased from 4.2 to 2.8 min. This is the first evidence that mRNA turnover is slower at extremely low-growth rates. The destabilization of many, but not all, transcripts at high-growth rate correlated with transcriptional upregulation of genes encoding the mRNA degradation machinery. We identified five classes of growth-rate regulation ranging from mainly transcriptional to mainly degradational. In general, differential stability within polycistronic messages encoded by operons does not appear to be affected by growth rate. We show here that the substantial reorganization of gene expression involving downregulation of tricarboxylic acid cycle genes and acetyl-CoA synthetase at high-growth rates is controlled mainly by transcript stability. Overall, our results demonstrate that the control of transcript stability has an important role in fine-tuning mRNA concentration during changes in growth rate.

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Esquerré, T., Laguerre, S., Turlan, C., Carpousis, A. J., Girbal, L., & Cocaign-Bousquet, M. (2014). Dual role of transcription and transcript stability in the regulation of gene expression in Escherichia coli cells cultured on glucose at different growth rates. Nucleic Acids Research, 42(4), 2460–2472. https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkt1150

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