Redefining the Small Regulatory RNA Transcriptome in Streptococcus pneumoniae Serotype 2 Strain D39.


Department of Biology, Indiana University-Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana, USA [Email] [Email]


Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) is a major human respiratory pathogen and a leading cause of bacterial pneumonia worldwide. Small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs), which often act by posttranscriptionally regulating gene expression, have been shown to be crucial for the virulence of S. pneumoniae and other bacterial pathogens. Over 170 putative sRNAs have been identified in the S. pneumoniae TIGR4 strain (serotype 4) through transcriptomic studies, and a subset of these sRNAs has been further implicated in regulating pneumococcal pathogenesis. However, there is little overlap in the sRNAs identified among these studies, which indicates that the approaches used for sRNA identification were not sufficiently sensitive and robust and that there are likely many more undiscovered sRNAs encoded in the S. pneumoniae genome. Here, we sought to comprehensively identify sRNAs in Avery's virulent S. pneumoniae strain D39 using two independent RNA sequencing (RNA-seq)-based approaches. We developed an unbiased method for identifying novel sRNAs from bacterial RNA-seq data and have further tested the specificity of our analysis program toward identifying sRNAs encoded by both strains D39 and TIGR4. Interestingly, the genes for 15% of the putative sRNAs identified in strain TIGR4, including ones previously implicated in virulence, are not present in the strain D39 genome, suggesting that the differences in sRNA repertoires between these two serotypes may contribute to their strain-specific virulence properties. Finally, this study has identified 66 new sRNA candidates in strain D39, 30 of which have been further validated, raising the total number of sRNAs that have been identified in strain D39 to 112.IMPORTANCE Recent work has shown that sRNAs play crucial roles in S. pneumoniae pathogenesis, as inactivation of nearly one-third of the putative sRNA genes identified in one study led to reduced fitness or virulence in a murine model. Yet our understanding of sRNA-mediated gene regulation in S. pneumoniae has been hindered by limited knowledge about these regulatory RNAs, including which sRNAs are synthesized by different S. pneumoniae strains. We sought to address this problem by developing a sensitive sRNA detection technique to identify sRNAs in S. pneumoniae D39. A comparison of our data set reported here to those of other RNA-seq studies for S. pneumoniae strain D39 and TIGR4 has provided new insights into the S. pneumoniae sRNA transcriptome.


RNA-seq,dRNA-seq,pneumococcus,sRNA transcriptome,serotype 2 D39,serotype 4 TIGR4,small RNA identification,

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