The coordinated regulation of gene expression is essential for pathogens to infect and cause disease. A recently appreciated mechanism of regulation is that afforded by small regulatory RNA (sRNA) molecules. Here, we set out to assess the prevalence of sRNAs in the human bacterial pathogen group A Streptococcus (GAS). Genome-wide identification of candidate GAS sRNAs was performed through a tiling Affymetrix microarray approach and identified 40 candidate sRNAs within the M1T1 GAS strain MGAS2221. Together with a previous bioinformatic approach this brings the number of novel candidate sRNAs in GAS to 75, a number that approximates the number of GAS transcription factors. Transcripts were confirmed by Northern blot analysis for 16 of 32 candidate sRNAs tested, and the abundance of several of these sRNAs were shown to be temporally regulated. Six sRNAs were selected for further study and the promoter, transcriptional start site, and Rho-independent terminator identified for each. Significant variation was observed between the six sRNAs with respect to their stability during growth, and with respect to their inter- and/or intra-serotype-specific levels of abundance. To start to assess the contribution of sRNAs to gene regulation in M1T1 GAS we deleted the previously described sRNA PEL from four clinical isolates. Data from genome-wide expression microarray, quantitative RT-PCR, and Western blot analyses are consistent with PEL having no regulatory function in M1T1 GAS. The finding that candidate sRNA molecules are prevalent throughout the GAS genome provides significant impetus to the study of this fundamental gene-regulatory mechanism in an important human pathogen.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)