The Streptococcus mutans irvA Gene Encodes a trans-Acting Riboregulatory mRNA

Nan Liu, Guoqing Niu, Zhoujie Xie, Zhiyun Chen, Andreas Itzek, Jens Kreth, Allison Gillaspy, Lin Zeng, Robert Burne, Fengxia Qi, Justin Merritt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, insight into gene function is typically obtained by insilico homology searches and/or phenotypic analyses of strains bearing mutations within open reading frames. However, the studies herein illustrate how mRNA function is not limited to the expression of a cognate protein. We demonstrate that a stress-induced protein-encoding mRNA (irvA) from the dental caries pathogen Streptococcus mutans directly modulates target mRNA (gbpC) stability through seed pairing interactions. The 5' untranslated region of irvA mRNA isa trans riboregulator of gbpC and a critical activator of the DDAG stress response, whereas IrvA functions independently in the regulation of natural competence. The irvA riboregulatory domain controls GbpC production by forming irvA-gbpC hybrid mRNA duplexes that prevent gbpC degradation byan RNase J2-mediated pathway. These studies implicate a potentially ubiquitous role for typical protein-encoding mRNAs as riboregulators, which could alter current concepts in gene regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-190
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Cell
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 8 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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