Control of Virulence by Small RNAs in Streptococcus pneumoniae

Department of Infectious Diseases, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America.
PLoS Pathogens (Impact Factor: 8.06). 07/2012; 8(7):e1002788. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002788
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Author Summary
Pneumonia is a leading cause of childhood mortality worldwide, resulting in more deaths in young children than any other infectious disease. One of the leading causes of pneumonia is the human pathogen, Streptococcus pneumoniae, the causative agent of over six million infections each year in the United States. Understanding how bacterial pathogens rapidly respond to dynamic host environments is a central aspect of microbial pathogenesis. Accumulating evidence has implicated sRNAs as vital regulators in a number of important cellular processes though few have been implicated in virulence. In our investigations we have applied next-generation sequencing to define the sRNA repertoire of S. pneumoniae. In addition, we utilized both targeted genetic knockouts and transposon mutagenesis to show that a significant portion of these sRNAs play important roles at various stages of pneumococcal pathogenesis. These data represent the first example of sRNAs being involved in pneumococcal pathogenesis and greatly expand the number of sRNAs that play important roles in bacterial pathogenesis.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Intracellular bacterial pathogens have evolved distinct lifestyles inside eukaryotic cells. Some pathogens coexist with the infected cell in an obligate intracellular state, whereas others transit between the extracellular and intracellular environment. Adaptation to these intracellular lifestyles is regulated in both space and time. Non-coding small RNAs (sRNAs) are post-transcriptional regulatory molecules that fine-tune important processes in bacterial physiology including cell envelope architecture, intermediate metabolism, bacterial communication, biofilm formation, and virulence. Recent studies have shown production of defined sRNA species by intracellular bacteria located inside eukaryotic cells. The molecules targeted by these sRNAs and their expression dynamics along the intracellular infection cycle remain, however, poorly characterized. Technical difficulties linked to the isolation of "intact" intracellular bacteria from infected host cells might explain why sRNA regulation in these specialized pathogens is still a largely unexplored field. Transition from the extracellular to the intracellular lifestyle provides an ideal scenario in which regulatory sRNAs are intended to participate; so much work must be done in this direction. This review focuses on sRNAs expressed by intracellular bacterial pathogens during the infection of eukaryotic cells, strategies used with these pathogens to identify sRNAs required for virulence, and the experimental technical challenges associated to this type of studies. We also discuss varied techniques for their potential application to study RNA regulation in intracellular bacterial infections.
    Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 11/2014; 4:162. DOI:10.3389/fcimb.2014.00162 · 2.62 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The two-component regulatory system (TCS) CiaRH of Streptococcus pneumoniae is implicated in competence, ß-lactam resistance, maintenance of cell integrity, bacteriocin production, host colonization, and virulence. Depending on the growth conditions, CiaR can be highly active in the absence of its cognate kinase CiaH, although phosphorylation of CiaR is required for DNA binding and gene regulation. To test the possibility that acetyl phosphate (AcP) could be the alternative phosphodonor, genes involved in pyruvate metabolism were disrupted to alter cellular levels of acetyl phosphate. Inactivating the genes of pyruvate oxidase SpxB, phosphotransacetylase Pta, and acetate kinase AckA, resulted in very low AcP levels and in strongly reduced CiaR-mediated gene expression in CiaH-deficient strains. Therefore, alternative phosphorylation of CiaR appears to proceed via AcP. The AcP effect on CiaR is not detected in strains with CiaH. Attempts to obtain elevated AcP by preventing its degradation by acetate kinase AckA, were not successful in CiaH-deficient strains with a functional SpxB, the most important enzyme for AcP production in S. pneumoniae. The ciaH-spxB-ackA mutant producing intermediate amounts of AcP could be constructed and showed a promoter activation, which was much higher than expected. Since activation was dependent on AcP, it can apparently be used more efficiently for CiaR phosphorylation in the absence of AckA. Therefore, high AcP levels in the absence of CiaH and AckA may cause extreme overexpression of the CiaR regulon leading to synthetic lethality. AckA is also involved in a regulatory response, which is mediated by CiaH. Addition of acetate to the growth medium switch CiaH from kinase to phosphatase. This switch is lost in the absence of AckA indicating metabolism of acetate is required, which starts with the production of AcP by AckA. Therefore, AckA plays a special regulatory role in the control of the CiaRH TCS.
    Frontiers in Microbiology 01/2014; 5:772. DOI:10.3389/fmicb.2014.00772 · 3.94 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Small RNA molecules (sRNAs) are now recognized as key regulators controlling bacterial gene expression, as sRNAs provide a quick and efficient means of positively or negatively altering the expression of specific genes. To date, numerous sRNAs have been identified and characterized in a myriad of bacterial species, but more recently, a theme in bacterial sRNAs has emerged: the presence of more than one highly related sRNAs produced by a given bacterium, here termed sibling sRNAs. Sibling sRNAs are those that are highly similar at the nucleotide level, and while it might be expected that sibling sRNAs exert identical regulatory functions on the expression of target genes based on their high degree of relatedness, emerging evidence is demonstrating that this is not always the case. Indeed, there are several examples of bacterial sibling sRNAs with non-redundant regulatory functions, but there are also instances of apparent regulatory redundancy between sibling sRNAs. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the current knowledge of bacterial sibling sRNAs, and also discusses important questions about the significance and evolutionary implications of this emerging class of regulators.
    Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 10/2014; 4:151. DOI:10.3389/fcimb.2014.00151 · 2.62 Impact Factor

Full-text (3 Sources)

Available from
Jun 2, 2014