An mRNA structure that controls gene expression by binding FMN

Wade C. Winkler, Smadar Cohen-Chalamish, Ronald R. Breaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations


The RFN element is a highly conserved domain that is found frequently in the 5′-untranslated regions of prokaryotic mRNAS that encode for flavin mononucleotide (FMN) biosynthesis and transport proteins. We report that this domain serves as the receptor for a metabolite-dependent riboswitch that directly binds FMN in the absence of proteins. Our results also indicate that in Bacillus subtilis, the riboswitch most likely controls gene expression by causing premature transcription termination of the rib-DEAHT operon and precluding access to the ribosome-binding site of ypaA mRNA. Sequence and structural analyses indicate that the RFN element is a natural FMN-binding aptamer, the allosteric character of which is harnessed to control gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15908-15913
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
StatePublished - 10 Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


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