The Section on Environmental Gene Regulation, headed by Gisela Storz, studies small, regulatory RNAs in E. coli. Many of these bacterial RNAs act analogously to eukaryotic miRNA and siRNAs to regulate mRNA stability and translation. Along with identifying additional small RNAs and characterizing their functions, the Section helped develop general tools for the study of these RNA regulators. The Section also initiated a project to identify and characterize another category of largely overlooked genes that encode small proteins of less than 50 amino acids. Systematic screens for growth conditions that lead to increased expression and for phenotypes associated with null mutations, combined with the identification of copurifying proteins, are yielding insights into the physiological roles of these small proteins.
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