Fender A, Elf J, Hampel K, Zimmermann B, Wagner EG
Genes Dev. 24 (23) 2621-2626 [2010-12-01; online 2010-12-03]
Hfq, a protein required for small RNA (sRNA)-mediated regulation in bacteria, binds RNA with low-nanomolar K(d) values and long half-lives of complexes (>100 min). This cannot be reconciled with the 1- 2-min response time of regulation in vivo. We show that RNAs displace each other on Hfq on a short time scale by RNA concentration-driven (active) cycling. Already at submicromolar concentrations of competitor RNA, half-lives of RNA-Hfq complexes are ≈1 min. We propose that competitor RNA associates transiently with RNA-Hfq complexes, RNAs exchange binding sites, and one of the RNAs eventually dissociates. This solves the "strong binding-high turnover" paradox and permits efficient use of the Hfq pool.