mBio, 2018, Vol.9(6)
The alphaproteobacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens is able to infect various eudicots causing crown gall tumor formation. Based on its unique ability of interkingdom gene transfer, Agrobacterium serves as a crucial biotechnological tool for genetic manipulation of plant cells. The presence of hundreds of putative sRNAs in this organism suggests a considerable impact of riboregulation on A. tumefaciens physiology. Here, we characterized the biological function of the sRNA PmaR that controls various processes crucial for growth, motility, and virulence. Among the genes directly targeted by PmaR is ampC coding for a beta-lactamase that confers ampicillin resistance, suggesting that the sRNA is crucial for fitness in the competitive microbial composition of the rhizosphere. ABSTRACT Small regulatory RNAs play an important role in the adaptation to changing conditions. Here, we describe a differentially expressed small regulatory RNA (sRNA) that affects various cellular processes in the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens . Using a combination of bioinformatic predictions and comparative proteomics, we identified nine targets, most of which are positively regulated by the sRNA. According to these targets, we named the sRNA PmaR for peptidoglycan biosynthesis, motility, and ampicillin resistance regulator. Agrobacterium spp. are long known to be naturally resistant to high ampicillin concentrations, and we can now explain this phenotype by the positive PmaR-mediated regulation of the beta-lactamase gene ampC . Structure probing revealed a spoon-like structure of the sRNA, with a single-stranded loop that is engaged in target interaction in vivo and in vitro . Several riboregulators have been implicated in antibiotic resistance mechanisms, such as uptake and efflux transporters, but PmaR represents the first example of an sRNA that directly controls the expression of an antibiotic resistance gene.
Research Article ; Molecular Biology And Physiology ; Antibiotic Resistance ; Gene Regulation ; Plant-Microbe Interaction ; Posttranscriptional Control ; Regulatory Rna