An important role for RNase R in mRNA decay

Zhuan Fen Cheng, Murray P. Deutscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


mRNA decay is a major determinant of gene expression. In Escherichia coli, message degradation initiates with an endoribonucleolytic cleavage followed by exoribonuclease digestion to generate 5′-mononucleotides. Although the 3′ to 5′ processive exoribonucleases, PNPase and RNase II, have long been considered to be mediators of this digestion, we show here that another enzyme, RNase R, also participates in the process. RNase R is particularly important for removing mRNA fragments with extensive secondary structure, such as those derived from the many mRNAs that contain REP elements. In the absence of RNase R and PNPase, REP-containing fragments accumulate to high levels. RNase R is unusual among exoribonucleases in that, by itself, it can digest through extensive secondary structure provided that a single-stranded binding region, such as a poly(A) tail, is present. These data demonstrate that RNase R, which is widespread in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, is an important participant in mRNA decay.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-318
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Cell
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 21 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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