Riboswitches

A riboswitch is a regulatory segment within a messenger RNA (mRNA) that binds to specific metabolites and modifies the expression of the riboswitch-containing mRNA’s protein product. Riboswitches are used by bacteria to maintain specific levels of a given metabolite, by regulating the expression of the protein responsible for its accumulation.

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  • News & Views |

    In the post-genomic era, many genes and regulatory elements remain uncharacterized, including riboswitches — RNA structures that control gene expression by directly binding metabolites. Here, a new type of metal-responsive riboswitch that senses sodium cations expands the bacterial Na+ metabolic repertoire.

    • Lauren Waters
  • News & Views |

    Reliable quantification and tracing of RNA molecules remain challenging goals. A new fluorescent RNA tag, developed based on a natural adenine-sensing riboswitch and named Squash, offers superior imaging properties and accurate quantification in living cells.

    • Abhishek Kaushik
    • , Ashok Nuthanakanti
    •  & Alexander Serganov
  • News & Views |

    Bacterial T-boxes are regulatory mRNA regions that control the transcription or translation of factors involved in amino acid supply. T-boxes act by directly binding to non-aminoacylated tRNA in response to amino acid starvation. Three studies now capture three-dimensional structures of tRNA–T-box complexes and reveal a set of RNA features that are required for the recognition of specific tRNAs and modulation of gene expression.

    • Jacob W. Weaver
    •  & Alexander Serganov
  • News & Views |

    Riboswitches enable microbes to rapidly respond to changing levels of metabolites. A high-throughput platform reveals how RNA structural transitions kinetically compete during transcription in a new mechanism for riboswitch function.

    • Margaret L. Rodgers
    • , Yumeng Hao
    •  & Sarah A. Woodson
    Nature Chemical Biology 15, 1031-1032