Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 25 August 2015, Vol.112(34), pp.E4772-81
Horizontal gene transfer via plasmid conjugation is a major driving force in microbial evolution but constitutes a complex process that requires synchronization with the physiological state of the host bacteria. Although several host transcription factors are known to regulate plasmid-borne transfer genes, RNA-based regulatory circuits for host-plasmid communication remain unknown. We describe a posttranscriptional mechanism whereby the Hfq-dependent small RNA, RprA, inhibits transfer of pSLT, the virulence plasmid of Salmonella enterica. RprA employs two separate seed-pairing domains to activate the mRNAs of both the sigma-factor σ(S) and the RicI protein, a previously uncharacterized membrane protein here shown to inhibit conjugation. Transcription of ricI requires σ(S) and, together, RprA and σ(S) orchestrate a coherent feedforward loop with AND-gate logic to tightly control the activation of RicI synthesis. RicI interacts with the conjugation apparatus protein TraV and limits plasmid transfer under membrane-damaging conditions. To our knowledge, this study reports the first small RNA-controlled feedforward loop relying on posttranscriptional activation of two independent targets and an unexpected role of the conserved RprA small RNA in controlling extrachromosomal DNA transfer.
Hfq ; Rpra ; Feedforward Control ; Plasmid Conjugation ; Srna ; Chromosomes, Bacterial ; DNA, Bacterial -- Genetics ; RNA, Bacterial -- Genetics ; Salmonella -- Genetics
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