Upstream Flanking Sequence Assists Folding of an RNA Thermometer

Elizabeth A. Jolley, Kathryn M. Bormes, Philip C. Bevilacqua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Many heat shock genes in bacteria are regulated through a class of temperature-sensitive stem-loop (SL) RNAs called RNA thermometers (RNATs). One of the most widely studied RNATs is the Repression Of heat Shock Expression (ROSE) element associated with expression of heat shock proteins. Located in the 5’UTR, the RNAT contains one to three auxiliary hairpins upstream of it. Herein, we address roles of these upstream SLs in the folding and function of an RNAT. Bradyrhizobium japonicum is a nitrogen-fixing bacterium that experiences a wide range of temperatures in the soil and contains ROSE elements, each having multiple upstream SLs. The 5’UTR of the messenger (mRNA) for heat shock protein A (hspA) in B. japonicum has an intricate secondary structure containing three SLs upstream of the RNAT SL. While structure-function studies of the hspA RNAT itself have been reported, it has been unclear if these auxiliary SLs contribute to the temperature-sensing function of the ROSE elements. Herein, we show that the full length (FL) sequence has several melting transitions indicating that the ROSE element unfolds in a non-two-state manner. The upstream SLs are more stable than the RNAT itself, and a variant with disrupted base pairing in the SL immediately upstream of the RNAT has little influence on the melting of the RNAT. On the basis of these results and modeling of the co-transcriptional folding of the ROSE element, we propose that the upstream SLs function to stabilize the transcript and aid proper folding and dynamics of the RNAT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167786
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 30 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Upstream Flanking Sequence Assists Folding of an RNA Thermometer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this