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Accumulation of nucleotides by starved Escherichia coli cells as a probe for the involvement of ribonucleases in ribonucleic acid degradation.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


The acid-soluble ribonucleic acid degradation products formed by Escherichia coli cells starved for a carbon source have been identified. They comprise oligonucleotides, nucleoside diphosphates, 5'- and 3'-nucleoside monophosphates, nucleosides, and free bases. The majority of these products are excreted phates, nucleosides, and free bases. The majority of these products are excreted into the medium, and only small and constant amounts are kept in the pool. During carbon starvation at elevated temperatures, mutants deficient in ribonuclease I do not form oligonucleotides and 3'-nucleoside monophosphates, and mutants that contain a modified form of polynucleotide phosphorylase do not accumulate nucleoside diphosphates. 5'-Nucleoside monophosphates do accumulate, however, in a mutant containing thermoabile ribonuclease II, under conditions where more than 95% of all enzyme activity had been destroyed. The data presented confirm the participation of ribonuclease I and polynucleotide phosphorylase in the final steps of ribonucleic acid degradation and indicate that an exonuclease forming 5'-nucleoside monophosphates is also involved.

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