Nucleic Acids Res. 44 (8) 3643-3658 [2016-05-05; online 2015-12-29]
We analyzed 80 different genomic experiments, and found a positive correlation between both RNA polymerase II transcription and mRNA degradation with growth rates in yeast. Thus, in spite of the marked variation in mRNA turnover, the total mRNA concentration remained approximately constant. Some genes, however, regulated their mRNA concentration by uncoupling mRNA stability from the transcription rate. Ribosome-related genes modulated their transcription rates to increase mRNA levels under fast growth. In contrast, mitochondria-related and stress-induced genes lowered mRNA levels by reducing mRNA stability or the transcription rate, respectively. We also detected these regulations within the heterogeneity of a wild-type cell population growing in optimal conditions. The transcriptomic analysis of sorted microcolonies confirmed that the growth rate dictates alternative expression programs by modulating transcription and mRNA decay.The regulation of overall mRNA turnover keeps a constant ratio between mRNA decay and the dilution of [mRNA] caused by cellular growth. This regulation minimizes the indiscriminate transmission of mRNAs from mother to daughter cells, and favors the response capacity of the latter to physiological signals and environmental changes. We also conclude that, by uncoupling mRNA synthesis from decay, cells control the mRNA abundance of those gene regulons that characterize fast and slow growth.