With drug-resistant bacteria on the offensive, researchers are on the lookout for novel microbial processes to disrupt. A new study provides evidence that recently discovered ribonucleic acid segments may become plum targets.
Those riboswitches, found in many bacteria, are stretches of messenger RNAs, which provide the instructions to cells for making specific proteins (SN: 4/10/04, p. 232: Available to subscribers at Quite a Switch). Typically, riboswitches respond to cellular concentrations of certain compounds that a cell requires. The switches then control the expression of genes necessary for making those metabolites.
Since the discovery of riboswitches in 2002, researchers have reported a dozen classes, each of which responds to a different metabolite. For example, many bacteria have riboswitches that interact with the amino acid lysine. When a cell has sufficient lysine, the amino acid binds to the riboswitch, triggering a structural cha