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Under conditions of tight coupling between translation and transcription, the ribosome enables synthesis of full-length mRNAs by preventing both formation of intrinsic terminator hairpins and loading of the transcription termination factor Rho. While previous studies have focused on transcription factors, we investigated the role of Escherichia coli elongation factor P (EF-P), an elongation factor required for efficient translation of mRNAs containing consecutive proline codons, in maintaining coupled translation and transcription. In the absence of EF-P, the presence of Rho utilization (rut) sites led to an ~30-fold decrease in translation of polyproline-encoding mRNAs. Coexpression of the Rho inhibitor Psu fully restored translation. EF-P was also shown to inhibit premature termination during synthesis and translation of mRNAs encoding intrinsic terminators. The effects of EF-P loss on expression of polyproline mRNAs were augmented by a substitution in RNA polymerase that accelerates transcription. Analyses of previously reported ribosome profiling and global proteomic data identified several candidate gene clusters where EF-P could act to prevent premature transcription termination. In vivo probing allowed detection of some predicted premature termination products in the absence of EF-P. Our findings support a model in which EF-P maintains coupling of translation and transcription by decreasing ribosome stalling at polyproline motifs. Other regulators that facilitate ribosome translocation through roadblocks to prevent premature transcription termination upon uncoupling remain to be identified.


This article was originally published in mBio, volume 7, in 2016.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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