Members of a family of small cold-shock proteins (CSPs) are induced during bacterial cell response to a temperature decrease. Here we review available data about the structure, molecular properties, mechanism of induction and possible functions of CSPs. CSPs preferentially bind single-stranded RNA and DNA and appear to play an important role in cell physiology under both normal and cold-shock conditions. Although the function of CSPs in cold-shock adaptation has not yet been elucidated in detail, a number of experimental evidences suggests that CSPs bind messenger RNA (mRNA) and regulate ribosomal translation, rate of mRNA degradation and termination of transcription.
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