Nav: Home

Discovery of entirely new class of RNA caps in bacteria

February 26, 2020

The group of Dr. Hana Cahová of the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS, in collaboration with scientists from the Institute of Microbiology of the CAS, has discovered an entirely new class of dinucleoside polyphosphate 5'RNA caps in bacteria and described the function of alarmones and their mechanism of function. The discovery was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

Dinucleoside polyphosphates are small signaling molecules found in all types of organisms. They have been known for more than fifty years and are often called "alarmones", as their concentration in cells increases under stress conditions (alarm). These molecules influence various cellular functions, but the mechanism of their action was as yet unknown. Hana Cahová and her colleagues noticed that the structure of these alarmones was similar to that of RNA and presumed that the alarmones were in fact part of the RNA in the form of so-called caps. Indeed, using mass spectrometry, they detected nine new types of these structures as part of RNA.

"As chemists, we noticed the glaring similarities of these alarmones with the RNA structure, so we were able to discover something that has been hidden from biologists for fifty years," says Hana Cahová, head of the junior research group at IOCB Prague.

The researchers found that these molecules are accepted by RNA polymerases and used as the first building blocks in RNA synthesis. Moreover, they determined that dinucleoside polyphosphate capped RNA can be cleaved by two types of enzymes and thus degraded. Some of the dinucleoside polyphosphate RNA caps were methylated, and the researchers have shown that these methylations protected RNA from cleavage and further degradation.

The amount of dinucleoside polyphosphate capped RNAs significantly increased under starvation conditions. Therefore, the authors propose that these caps protect RNA from degradation under starvation conditions when the cells do not have enough building blocks for creating such macromolecules as RNA. In such situations, the cell cannot flexibly react to the demands of the environment, but it can retain at least some RNA. Once the cell has enough nutrition again, the capped RNA is degraded by a specific enzyme, and the cell can build new RNA to reflect the current situation.

This is the first work showing that the 5' end status of RNA depends on environment and stress. Moreover, the discovery of alarmones in RNA can explain the mechanism of their action. This work also provides the first evidence of small signaling molecules - dinucleoside polyphosphates - acting as parts of the RNA.

The chemical biology group of Dr. Hana Cahová applies chemical methods to biological systems to better understand cellular processes. The team is especially interested in finding new RNA modifications in viruses and bacteria and understanding their role.
Original paper: Hudeček, O., Benoni R. et al. Dinucleoside polyphosphates act as 5'-RNA caps in bacteria. Nat Commun 2020. doi:10.1038/s41467-020-14896-8

About IOCB Prague

The Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences / IOCB Prague ( is a leading internationally recognized scientific institution whose primary mission is the pursuit of basic research in chemical biology and medicinal chemistry, organic and materials chemistry, chemistry of natural substances, biochemistry and molecular biology, physical chemistry, theoretical chemistry, and analytical chemistry. An integral part of the IOCB Prague's mission is the implementation of the results of basic research in practice. Emphasis on interdisciplinary research gives rise to a wide range of applications in medicine, pharmacy, and other fields.

Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IOCB Prague)

Related Bacteria Articles:

How bacteria fertilize soya
Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth.
Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.
Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.
Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.
Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.
Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.
How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.
The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?
Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.
Bacteria uses viral weapon against other bacteria
Bacterial cells use both a virus -- traditionally thought to be an enemy -- and a prehistoric viral protein to kill other bacteria that competes with it for food according to an international team of researchers who believe this has potential implications for future infectious disease treatment.
More Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#566 Is Your Gut Leaking?
This week we're busting the human gut wide open with Dr. Alessio Fasano from the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital. Join host Anika Hazra for our discussion separating fact from fiction on the controversial topic of leaky gut syndrome. We cover everything from what causes a leaky gut to interpreting the results of a gut microbiome test! Related links: Center for Celiac Research and Treatment website and their YouTube channel
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Flag and the Fury
How do you actually make change in the world? For 126 years, Mississippi has had the Confederate battle flag on their state flag, and they were the last state in the nation where that emblem remained "officially" flying.  A few days ago, that flag came down. A few days before that, it coming down would have seemed impossible. We dive into the story behind this de-flagging: a journey involving a clash of histories, designs, families, and even cheerleading. This show is a collaboration with OSM Audio. Kiese Laymon's memoir Heavy is here. And the Hospitality Flag webpage is here.