Most RNA molecules require Mg2+ for their structure and enzymatic properties. Here we report the first example of an RNA serving as sensor for cytoplasmic Mg2+. We establish that expression of the Mg2+ transporter MgtA of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium is controlled by its 5′ untranslated region (5′UTR). We show that the 5′UTR of the mgtA gene can adopt different stem-loop structures depending on the Mg2+ levels, which determine whether transcription reads through into the mgtA coding region or stops within the 5′UTR. We could recapitulate the Mg2+-regulated transcription using a defined in vitro transcription system with RNA polymerase as the only protein component. The initiation of mgtA transcription responds to extracytoplasmic Mg2+ and its elongation into the coding region to cytoplasmic Mg2+, providing a singular example in which the same ligand is sensed in different cellular compartments to regulate disparate steps in gene transcription.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)