Sequence features of E. coli mRNAs affect their degradation

Gal Lenz, Adi Doron-Faigenboim, Eliora Z. Ron, Tamir Tuller, Uri Gophna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Degradation of mRNA in bacteria is a regulatory mechanism, providing an efficient way to fine-tune protein abundance in response to environmental changes. While the mechanisms responsible for initiation and subsequent propagation of mRNA degradation are well studied, the mRNA features that affect its stability are yet to be elucidated. We calculated three properties for each mRNA in the E. coli transcriptome: G+C content, tRNA adaptation index (tAI) and folding energy. Each of these properties were then correlated with the experimental transcript half life measured for each transcript and detected significant correlations. A sliding window analysis identified the regions that displayed the maximal signal. The correlation between transcript half life and both G+C content and folding energy was strongest at the 5′ termini of the mRNAs. Partial correlations showed that each of the parameters contributes separately to mRNA half life. Notably, mRNAs of recently-acquired genes in the E. coli genome, which have a distinct nucleotide composition, tend to be highly stable. This high stability may aid the evolutionary fixation of horizontally acquired genes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28544
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
StatePublished - 7 Dec 2011


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