PLoS Genetics, 2017, Vol.13(2)
The carbon storage regulator protein CsrA regulates cellular processes post-transcriptionally by binding to target-RNAs altering translation efficiency and/or their stability. Here we identified and analyzed the direct targets of CsrA in the human pathogen Legionella pneumophila . Genome wide transcriptome, proteome and RNA co-immunoprecipitation followed by deep sequencing of a wild type and a csrA mutant strain identified 479 RNAs with potential CsrA interaction sites located in the untranslated and/or coding regions of mRNAs or of known non-coding sRNAs. Further analyses revealed that CsrA exhibits a dual regulatory role in virulence as it affects the expression of the regulators FleQ, LqsR, LetE and RpoS but it also directly regulates the timely expression of over 40 Dot/Icm substrates. CsrA controls its own expression and the stringent response through a regulatory feedback loop as evidenced by its binding to RelA-mRNA and links it to quorum sensing and motility. CsrA is a central player in the carbon, amino acid, fatty acid metabolism and energy transfer and directly affects the biosynthesis of cofactors, vitamins and secondary metabolites. We describe the first L . pneumophila riboswitch, a thiamine pyrophosphate riboswitch whose regulatory impact is fine-tuned by CsrA, and identified a unique regulatory mode of CsrA, the active stabilization of RNA anti-terminator conformations inside a coding sequence preventing Rho-dependent termination of the gap operon through transcriptional polarity effects. This allows L . pneumophila to regulate the pentose phosphate pathway and the glycolysis combined or individually although they share genes in a single operon. Thus the L . pneumophila genome has evolved to acclimate at least five different modes of regulation by CsrA giving it a truly unique position in its life cycle. Author summary The RNA binding protein CsrA is the master regulator of the bi-phasic life cycle of Legionella pneumophila governing virulence expression in this intracellular pathogen. Here, we have used deep sequencing of RNA enriched by co-immunoprecipitation with epitope-tagged CsrA to identify CsrA-associated transcripts at the genome level. We found 479 mRNAs or non-coding RNAs to be targets of CsrA. Among those major regulators including FleQ, the regulator of flagella expression, LqsR, the regulator of quorum sensing and RpoS implicated in stress response were identified. The expression of over 40 type IV secreted effector proteins important for intracellular survival and virulence are under the control of CsrA. Combined with transcriptomics, whole shotgun proteomics of a wild type and a CsrA mutant strain and functional analyses of several CsrA-targeted RNAs we identified the first riboswitch in L . pneumophila , a thiamine pyrophosphate riboswitch, and discovered a new mode of regulation by CsrA that allows L . pneumophila to regulate the pentose phosphate pathway and the glycolysis combined or individually although they share genes in a single operon. Our results further underline the indispensable role of CsrA in the life cycle of L . pneumophila and provide new insights into its regulatory roles and mechanisms.
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