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Mol Microbiol. 2012 Sep;85(5):817-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08144.x. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

RNase Y of Staphylococcus aureus and its role in the activation of virulence genes.

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Interfaculty Institute of Microbiology and Infection Medicine, University of Tübingen, Germany.


RNase Y of Bacillus subtilis is a key member of the degradosome and important for bulk mRNA turnover. In contrast to B. subtilis, the RNase Y homologue (rny/cvfA) of Staphylococcus aureus is not essential for growth. Here we found that RNase Y plays a major role in virulence gene regulation. Accordingly, rny deletion mutants demonstrated impaired virulence in a murine bacteraemia model. RNase Y is important for the processing and stabilization of the immature transcript of the global virulence regulator system SaePQRS. Moreover, RNase Y is involved in the activation of virulence gene expression at the promoter level. This control is independent of both the virulence regulator agr and the saePQRS processing and may be mediated by small RNAs some of which were shown to be degraded by RNase Y. Besides this regulatory effect, mRNA levels of several operons were significantly increased in the rny mutant and the half-life of one of these operons was shown to be extremely extended. However, the half-life of many mRNA species was not significantly altered. Thus, RNase Y in S. aureus influences mRNA expression in a tightly controlled regulatory manner and is essential for coordinated activation of virulence genes.

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