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Cold shock proteins aid coupling of transcription and translation in bacteria

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Transcription and translation are tightly coupled in bacterial cells. However, the transcription machinery and ribosomes generally occupy different subcellular regions in bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, indicating the need for (a) mechanism(s) coupling these processes. A prime function of this mechanism(s) would be ensuring the transfer of unfolded mRNA from the nucleoid to ribosomes, which require linear mRNA for the initiation of translation. During conditions of a sudden decrease in temperature (cold shock), secondary structures in mRNA would pose an even greater problem for the initiation process. Two conserved classes of proteins, cold shock proteins (CSPs) and cold induced RNA helicases (CSHs), appear to be major players in the prevention of secondary mRNA structures and in transcription/translation coupling. CSPs are general mRNA-binding proteins, and like CSH-type RNA helicases, the presence of at least one csp gene in the cell is essential for viability. Members of both protein families have recently been shown to interact, suggesting that a two-step process achieves the coupling process, removal of secondary mRNA structures through CSHs and prevention of reformation through CSPs.

Keywords: cold shock; cold shock proteins; mRNA; nucleoid; ribosomes; transcription; translation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany

Publication date: 2007-03-31

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