A Role for REP sequences in regulating translation

Wenxing Liang, Kenneth E. Rudd, Murray P. Deutscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Repetitive extragenic palindromic (REP) sequences are highly structured elements found downstream of ~500 genes in Escherichia coli that result in extensive stem-loop structures in their mRNAs. However, their physiological role has remained elusive. Here, we show that REP sequences can downregulate translation, but only if they are within 15 nt of a termination codon; a spacing of 16 nt has no effect, suggesting that the REP element acts to stall ribosome movement. Ribosome stalling leads to cleavage of the mRNA and induction of the trans-translation process. Using nrdAB as a model, we find that its regulation can be partially reversed by overexpression ofRNA helicases and can be fully overcome upon UV stress, emphasizing the importance of this regulatory process. Since 50% of REP-associated genes have these elements within the critical 15 nt, these findings identify a regulatory mechanism with the potential to affect translation from a large number of genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-439
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Cell
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 7 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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