Accessibility and evolutionary conservation mark bacterial small-RNA target-binding regions

Asaf Peer, Hanah Margalit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Bacterial small noncoding RNAs have attracted much interest in recent years as posttranscriptional regulators of genes involved in diverse pathways. Small RNAs (sRNAs) are 50 to 400 nucleotides long and exert their regulatory function by directly base pairing with mRNA targets to alter their stability and/or affect their translation. This base pairing is achieved through a region of about 10 to 25 nucleotides, which may be located at various positions along different sRNAs. By compiling a data set of experimentally determined target-binding regions of sRNAs and systematically analyzing their properties, we reveal that they are both more evolutionarily conserved and more accessible than random regions. We demonstrate the use of these properties for computational identification of sRNA target-binding regions with high specificity and sensitivity. Our results show that these predicted regions are likely to base pair with known targets of an sRNA, suggesting that pointing out these regions in a specific sRNA can help in searching for its targets.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1690-1701
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2011


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