[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:
Hfq is an RNA-binding protein that functions in post-transcriptional gene regulation by mediating interactions between mRNAs and small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs). Two proteins encoded by BAB1_1794 and BAB2_0612 are highly over-produced in a Brucella abortus hfq mutant compared with the parental strain, and recently, expression of orthologues of these proteins in Agrobacterium tumefaciens was shown to be regulated by two sRNAs, called AbcR1 and AbcR2. Orthologous sRNAs (likewise designated AbcR1 and AbcR2) have been identified in B. abortus 2308. In Brucella, abcR1 and abcR2 single mutants are not defective in their ability to survive in cultured murine macrophages, but an abcR1 abcR2 double mutant exhibits significant attenuation in macrophages. Additionally, the abcR1 abcR2 double mutant displays significant attenuation in a mouse model of chronic Brucella infection. Quantitative proteomics and microarray analyses revealed that the AbcR sRNAs predominantly regulate genes predicted to be involved in amino acid and polyamine transport and metabolism, and Northern blot analyses indicate that the AbcR sRNAs accelerate the degradation of the target mRNAs. In an Escherichia coli two-plasmid reporter system, overexpression of either AbcR1 or AbcR2 was sufficient for regulation of target mRNAs, indicating that the AbcR sRNAs from B. abortus 2308 perform redundant regulatory functions.