The opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa is frequently associated with nosocomial infections, and can be life threatening in immunosuppressed, cancer and cystic fibrosis patients. Virulence in P. aeruginosa is combinatorial, and results from the activation of several genetic programs that regulate motility, attachment to the host epithelium as well as the synthesis of exotoxins. The pathogen has a high survival capacity in the host owing to its metabolic versatility, nutrient scavenging and resistance against both, antibiotics and immune defenses. Adaptive responses to various environmental stresses and stimuli are often regulated by small regulatory RNAs (sRNA). In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the regulation and function of P. aeruginosa sRNAs that titrate regulatory proteins, base-pair with target mRNAs, and which are derived from CRISPR elements.
The non-coding RNA world of the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes
In the past ten years, Listeria monocytogenes has emerged as a model organism in infection biology and also become an attractive system for the study of regulatory RNAs in pathogenic bacteria. Due to the recent completion of several transcriptomic studies, it is now clear that L. monocytogenes possesses a large repertoire of both cis- and trans-encoded RNAs. These include numerous small RNAs (sRNAs) expressed during infection, widespread transcription of both short and long antisense RNAs (asRNAs) and an array of cis-acting regulatory RNA elements. In this review we highlight the recent advances in non-coding RNA research in L. monocytogenes with a particular focus on emerging themes of RNA-based regulation.
The Csr/Rsm system of Yersinia and related pathogens: A post-transcriptional strategy for managing virulence
This review emphasizes the function and regulation of the Csr regulatory system in the human enteropathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and compares its features with the homologous Csr/Rsm systems of related pathogens. The Csr/Rsm systems of eubacteria form a complex regulatory network in which redundant non-translated Csr/Rsm-RNAs bind the RNA-binding protein CsrA/RsmA, thereby preventing its interaction with mRNA targets. The Csr system is controlled by the BarA/UvrY-type of two-component sensor-regulator systems. Apart from that, common or pathogen-specific regulators control the abundance of the Csr components. The coordinate control of virulence factors and infection-linked physiological traits by the Csr/Rsm systems helps the pathogens to adapt individually to rapidly changing conditions to which they are exposed during the different stages of an infection. As Csr/Rsm function is relevant for full virulence, it represents a target suitable for antimicrobial drug development.
Non-coding sRNAs regulate virulence in the bacterial pathogen Vibrio cholerae
Vibrio cholerae is the waterborne bacterium responsible for worldwide outbreaks of the acute, potentially fatal cholera diarrhea. The primary factors this human pathogen uses to cause the disease are controlled by a complex regulatory program linking extracellular signaling inputs to changes in expression of several critical virulence genes. Recently it has been uncovered that many non-coding regulatory sRNAs are important components of the V. cholerae virulence regulon. Most of these sRNAs appear to require the RNA-binding protein, Hfq, to interact with and alter the expression of target genes, while a few sRNAs appear to function by an Hfq-independent mechanism. Direct base-pairing between the sRNAs and putative target mRNAs has been shown in a few cases but the extent of each sRNAs regulon is not fully known. Genetic and biochemical methods, coupled with computational and genomics approaches, are being used to validate known sRNAs and also to identify many additional putative sRNAs that may play a role in the pathogenic lifestyle of V. cholerae.
Current knowledge on regulatory RNAs and their machineries in Staphylococcus aureus
Staphylococcus aureus is one of the major human pathogens, which causes numerous community-associated and hospital-acquired infections. The regulation of the expression of numerous virulence factors is coordinated by complex interplays between two component systems, transcriptional regulatory proteins, and regulatory RNAs. Recent studies have identified numerous novel RNAs comprising cis-acting regulatory RNAs, antisense RNAs, small non coding RNAs and small mRNAs encoding peptides. We present here several examples of RNAs regulating S. aureus pathogenicity and describe various aspects of antisense regulation.
The group of streptococci includes species responsible for severe diseases in humans. To adapt to their environment and infect their hosts, streptococci depend on precise regulation of gene expression. The last decade has witnessed increasing findings of small RNAs (sRNAs) having regulatory functions in bacteria. More recently, genome-wide screens revealed that streptococcal genomes also encode multiple sRNAs. Some sRNAs including the class of CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) play critical roles in streptococcal adaptation and virulence. Analysis of sRNA mechanisms uncovered three sRNAs that target in trans mRNA (FasX), sRNA (tracrRNA) and DNA (crRNA). Overall, the current understanding of sRNA-mediated regulation in streptococci remains very limited. Given the complexity of regulatory networks and the number of recently predicted sRNAs, future research should reveal new functions and mechanisms for the streptococcal sRNAs. Here, we provide a comprehensive summary of the information available on the topic.
Non-coding RNA and its potential role in Mycobacterium tuberculosis pathogenesis
It is estimated that one third of the human population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Efforts to understand the molecular basis of its gene regulation have been focused on identification of protein encoding genes and regulons implicated in pathogenesis. Recently, a number of studies have described the identification of several non-coding RNAs that are likely to contribute significantly to the regulatory networks responsible for adaptation and virulence in M. tuberculosis. We have reviewed emerging information on the presence and abundance of different types of non-coding RNA in M. tuberculosis and consider their potential contribution to the adaptive responses that underlie disease pathogenesis.
sRNAs and the virulence of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium
The combination of genomics and high-throughput cDNA sequencing technologies has facilitated the identification of many small RNAs (sRNAs) that play a central role in the post-transcriptional gene regulation of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. To date, most of the functionally characterized sRNAs have been involved in the regulation of processes which are not directly linked to virulence. Just five sRNAs have been found to affect the ability of Salmonella to replicate within mammalian cells, but the precise regulatory mechanisms that are used by sRNAs to control Salmonella pathogenicity at the post-transcriptional level remain to be identified. It is anticipated that an improved understanding of sRNA biology will shed new light on the virulence of Salmonella.
Deep sequencing uncovers numerous small RNAs on all four replicons of the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens
Agrobacterium species are capable of interkingdom gene transfer between bacteria and plants. The genome of Agrobacterium tumefaciens consists of a circular and a linear chromosome, the At-plasmid and the Ti-plasmid, which harbors bacterial virulence genes required for tumor formation in plants. Little is known about promoter sequences and the small RNA (sRNA) repertoire of this and other α-proteobacteria. We used a differential RNA sequencing (dRNA-seq) approach to map transcriptional start sites of 388 annotated genes and operons. In addition, a total number of 228 sRNAs was revealed from all four Agrobacterium replicons. Twenty-two of these were confirmed by independent RNA gel blot analysis and several sRNAs were differentially expressed in response to growth media, growth phase, temperature or pH. One sRNA from the Ti-plasmid was massively induced under virulence conditions. The presence of 76 cis-antisense sRNAs, two of them on the reverse strand of virulence genes, suggests considerable antisense transcription in Agrobacterium. The information gained from this study provides a valuable reservoir for an in-depth understanding of sRNA-mediated regulation of the complex physiology and infection process of Agrobacterium.
The small RNA RybA regulates key-genes in the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids under peroxide stress in E. coli
In bacteria, adaptive response to external stimuli is often regulated by small RNAs (sRNAs). In Escherichia coli, the organism in which sRNAs have been best characterized so far, no function could be attributed to 40 out of 79 sRNAs. Here we decipher the function of RybA, one of these orphan sRNAs. RybA was discovered in 2001 by Wassarman et al. using comparative genomics. This sRNA is conserved between E. coli, Salmonella typhimurium and Klebsiella pneumoniae. We determined the expression pattern of RybA under different growth conditions and identified its exact 5′ and 3′ ends. Using microarray and Northern analysis we show that, under peroxide stress, the absence of RybA leads to an upregulation of key genes of the TyrR regulon involved in the metabolism of aromatic compounds including the aromatic amino acids. Although containing an open reading frame, which might have an independent function, RybA does not require translation for this activity and therefore acts at the RNA level. Furthermore we demonstrate that regulation requires the transcription regulator TyrR. The mechanism of activation of TyrR, probably the primary target of RybA, remains to be elucidated. The downregulation of aromatic amino acid biosynthesis might regulate the cellular concentration of chorismate and its availability for other downstream products like ubiquinone or enterobactin. While ubiquinone participates in the defense against oxidative stress in the cytoplasmic membrane, enterobactin is involved in iron import and is therefore detrimental under oxidative stress.
Dynamics of Salmonella small RNA expression in non-growing bacteria located inside eukaryotic cells
Small non-coding regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) have been studied in many bacterial pathogens during infection. However, few studies have focused on how intracellular pathogens modulate sRNA expression inside eukaryotic cells. Here, we monitored expression of all known sRNAs of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) in bacteria located inside fibroblasts, a host cell type in which this pathogen restrains growth. sRNA sequences known in S. Typhimurium and Escherichia coli were searched in the genome of S. Typhimurium virulent strain SL1344, the subject of this study. Expression of 84 distinct sRNAs was compared in extra- and intracellular bacteria. Non-proliferating intracellular bacteria upregulated six sRNAs, including IsrA, IsrG, IstR-2, RyhB-1, RyhB-2 and RseX while repressed the expression of the sRNAs DsrA, GlmZ, IsrH-1, IsrI, SraL, SroC, SsrS(6S) and RydC. Interestingly, IsrH-1 was previously reported as an sRNA induced by S. Typhimurium inside macrophages. Kinetic analyses unraveled changing expression patterns for some sRNAs along the infection. InvR and T44 expression dropped after an initial induction phase while IstR-2 was induced exclusively at late infection times (> 6 h). Studies focused on the Salmonella-specific sRNA RyhB-2 revealed that intracellular bacteria use this sRNA to regulate negatively YeaQ, a cis-encoded protein of unknown function. RyhB-2, together with RyhB-1, contributes to attenuate intracellular bacterial growth. To our knowledge, these data represent the first comprehensive study of S. Typhimurium sRNA expression in intracellular bacteria and provide the first insights into sRNAs that may direct pathogen adaptation to a non-proliferative state inside the host cell.
Hfq and Hfq-dependent small RNAs are major contributors to multicellular development in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium
The RNA chaperone Hfq and its associated small RNAs (sRNAs) regulate a variety of phenotypes in bacteria. In this work, we show that Hfq is a master regulator of biofilm formation in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Hfq and two Hfq-dependent sRNAs (ArcZ and SdsR) are required for rdar morphotype expression in S. typhimurium. Hfq controls rdar biofilm formation through the major biofilm regulator CsgD. While csgD mRNA steady-state levels are altered in a sdsR mutant, ArcZ seems to work mainly at the post-transcriptional level. Overexpression of ArcZ complemented rdar morphotype formation of an hfq mutant under plate-grown conditions. Although ArcZ activates rpoS expression, its effect on csgD expression is mainly independent of RpoS. ArcZ does not only regulate rdar morphotype expression, but also the transition between sessility and motility and the timing of type 1 fimbriae vs. curli fimbriae surface-attachment at ambient temperature. Consequently, ArcZ is a major regulator of rdar biofilm development.
Deep sequencing defines the transcriptional map of L. pneumophila and identifies growth phase-dependent regulated ncRNAs implicated in virulence
The bacterium Legionella pneumophila is found ubiquitously in aquatic environments and can cause a severe pneumonia in humans called Legionnaires' disease. How this bacterium switches from intracellular to extracellular life and adapts to different hosts and environmental conditions is only partly understood. Here we used RNA deep sequencing from exponentially (replicative) and post exponentially (virulent) grown L. pneumophila to analyze the transcriptional landscape of its entire genome. We established the complete operon map and defined 2561 primary transcriptional start sites (TSS). Interestingly, 187 of the 1805 TSS of protein-coding genes contained tandem promoters of which 93 show alternative usage dependent on the growth phase. Similarly, over 60% of 713 here identified ncRNAs are phase dependently regulated. Analysis of their conservation among the seven L. pneumophila genomes sequenced revealed many strain specific differences suggesting that L. pneumophila contains a highly dynamic pool of ncRNAs. Analysis of six ncRNAs exhibiting the same expression pattern as virulence genes showed that two, Lppnc0584 and Lppnc0405 are indeed involved in intracellular growth of L. pneumophila in A. castellanii. Furthermore, L. pneumophila encodes a small RNA named RsmX that functions together with RsmY and RsmZ in the LetA-CsrA regulatory pathway, crucial for the switch to the virulent phenotype. Together our data provide new insight into the transcriptional organization of the L. pneumophila genome, identified many new ncRNAs and will provide a framework for the understanding of virulence and adaptation properties of L. pneumophila.
Experimental tools to identify RNA-protein interactions in Helicobacter pylori
Helicobacter pylori, one of the most prevalent human pathogens, used to be thought to lack small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) which are otherwise considered abundant in all bacteria. However, our recent analysis of the primary transcriptome of H. pylori discovered an unexpectedly large number of sRNAs, and suggested that this model organism also uses riboregulation to control the expression of its genes. Nonetheless, whereas most enterobacterial sRNAs require the RNA chaperone Hfq for function, Epsilonproteobacteria including H. pylori seem to have no Hfq homologue, which prompted us to search for other auxiliary proteins in sRNA-mediated regulation. Therefore, we have developed two orthogonal methods to isolate and investigate in vivo and in vitro assembled RNA-protein complexes in H. pylori: (i) an affinity chromatography strategy based on aptamer-tagged sRNAs of interest to identify their protein binding partners; and (ii) a rapid method for chromosomal FLAG-tagging of proteins to facilitate co-immunoprecipitation of associated RNA species. Using these methods, we have identified RNA-protein interactions between the ribosomal protein S1 and various mRNAs and sRNAs of H. pylori. Moreover, both methods reported a stable RNA-protein complex between the abundant HPnc6910 sRNA and HP1334, a protein of unknown function that is encoded downstream of HPnc6910. Given that 50% of all bacteria may lack Hfq, our methods can be useful to identify RNA-protein interactions in a wider range of bacterial pathogens.