By Morgan Sherburne, Michigan News
Bacteria need to constantly adapt to compete against other species for nutrient sources and to survive against threats such as antibiotics and toxins. In an effort to understand how bacteria control and regulate this adaptation, University of Michigan researchers from the Center for RNA Biomedicine are examining how RNA polymerase—the enzyme that transcribes genetic information from DNA onto RNA—slows during transcription in a process called transcriptional pausing.
They found that a protein called N-utilizing substance A, or NusA, in concert with another control element called a riboswitch, fine-tunes the transcription speed in order to regulate gene expression. Gene expression is the process by which genetic information is converted into the building blocks of the bacterium.
The researchers say their work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, expands our general understanding of the transcription process in bacteria, and could provide a target for developing new antibiotics.