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The stability of an mRNA is influenced by its concentration: a potential physical mechanism to regulate gene expression

Abstract : Changing mRNA stability is a major post-transcriptional way of controlling gene expression, particularly in newly encountered conditions. As the concentration of mRNA is the result of an equilibrium between transcription and degradation, it is generally assumed that at constant transcription, any change in mRNA concentration is the consequence of mRNA stabilization or destabilization. However, the literature reports many cases of opposite variations in mRNA concentration and stability in bacteria. Here, we analyzed the causal link between the concentration and stability of mRNA in two phylogenetically distant bacteria Escherichia coli and Lactococcus lactis. Using reporter mRNAs, we showed that modifying the stability of an mRNA had unpredictable effects , either higher or lower, on its concentration, whereas increasing its concentration systematically reduced stability. This inverse relationship between the concentration and stability of mRNA was generalized to native genes at the genome scale in both bacteria. Higher mRNA turnover in the case of higher concentrations appears to be a simple physical mechanism to regulate gene expression in the bacterial kingdom. The consequences for bacterial adaptation of this control of the stability of an mRNA by its concentration are discussed.
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Sebastien Nouaille, Sophie Mondeil, Anne-Laure Finoux, Claire Moulis, Laurence Girbal, et al.. The stability of an mRNA is influenced by its concentration: a potential physical mechanism to regulate gene expression. Nucleic Acids Research, Oxford University Press, 2017, 45 (20), pp.11711 - 11724. ⟨10.1093/nar/gkx781⟩. ⟨hal-01882991⟩

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