Myers et al., NrnB

Published: 28 July 2023| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/jmh7w2xdm3.2
Wade Winkler,


Data for "Bacillus subtilis NrnB is expressed during sporulation and acts as a unique 3’-5’ exonuclease" All cells employ a combination of endo- and exoribonucleases to degrade long RNA polymers to fragments 2-5 nucleotides in length. These short RNA fragments are processed to monoribonucleotides by nanoRNases. Genetic depletion of nanoRNases has been shown to increase abundance of short RNAs. This deleteriously affects viability, virulence, and fitness, indicating that short RNAs are a metabolic burden. Previously, we provided evidence that NrnA is the housekeeping nanoRNase for Bacillus subtilis. Herein, we investigate the biological and biochemical functions of the evolutionarily related protein, B. subtilis NrnB (NrnBBs). These experiments show that NrnB is surprisingly different from NrnA. While NrnA acts at the 5’ terminus of RNA substrates, NrnB acts at the 3’ terminus. Additionally, NrnA is expressed constitutively under standard growth conditions, yet NrnB is selectively expressed during endospore formation. Furthermore, NrnA processes only short RNAs, while NrnB unexpectedly processes both short RNAs and longer RNAs. Indeed, inducible expression of NrnB can even complement the loss of the known global 3’-5’ exoribonucleases, indicating that it acts as a general exonuclease. Together, these data demonstrate that NrnB proteins, which are widely found in Firmicutes, Epsilonproteobacteria and Archaea, are fundamentally different than NrnA proteins and may be used for specialized purposes.



University of Maryland at College Park


RNA Processing, Bacterial Protein, Bacillus subtilis, Bacterial Genetics


National Institutes of Health