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A global perspective of RNases

Next generation sequencing reveals effect of bacterial exoribonucleases

Oeiras, 24.02.2015

Ribonucleases (RNases) mature and degrade all types of RNAs but there are hundreds of different RNA molecules in a cell – how are they affected globally? Is there any sort of specialization? To look into these questions, researchers from the Lab of Control of Gene Expression resorted to next generation RNA sequencing (a high-throughput sequencing method) to compare the RNA pool of bacteria with and without specific RNases. The results are published in BMC Genomics.

Controlling RNA degradation is a way for the cells to regulate gene expression and cells have several enzymes for this job. For example, the model bacteria E. coli has three different exoribonucleases (enzymes that chop RNA molecules from the ends) and each has been shown to be involved in particular physiological processes. But usually these studies are done looking at the effect on a small number of transcripts. This time, researchers decided to look in a broad perspective at all the RNA molecules at once.

Researchers found that deleting any of the three RNases affected the whole RNA profile and, while overlapping, the effect was different for different RNases. Still there was a class of genes that was always affected by these enzymes: those related to cell motility and biofilm formation. In fact, mutant bacteria were found to be significantly less mobile than the wild type and produced either more biofilm or no biofilm at all.

This is the first time next generation sequencing was used to assess the global effect of exoribonucleases and results demonstrate how powerful the technique is. The confirmation that exoribonucleases are involved in cell motility and biofilm formation is also relevant since these processes are important for cell survival and pathogenicity.

Original Article

BMC Genomics (2015) 6:72 doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1237-6

Next generation sequencing analysis reveals that the ribonucleases RNase II, RNase R and PNPase affect bacterial motility and biofilm formation in E. coli

Vânia Pobre and Cecília M Arraiano

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