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RNA Biol. 2014;11(5):550-62. Epub 2014 Jul 8.

Riboregulation in plant-associated α-proteobacteria.

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LOEWE Centre for Synthetic Microbiology and Faculty of Biology; Philipps-Universität Marburg; Marburg, Germany.
Microbial Biology; Ruhr University Bochum; Bochum, Germany.
Center for Biotechnology (CeBiTec); Bielefeld University; Bielefeld, Germany.
Institute of Microbiology and Molecular Biology; University of Gießen; Gießen, Germany.


The symbiotic α-rhizobia Sinorhizobium meliloti, Bradyrhizobium japonicum, Rhizobium etli and the related plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens are important model organisms for studying plant-microbe interactions. These metabolically versatile soil bacteria are characterized by complex lifestyles and large genomes. Here we summarize the recent knowledge on their small non-coding RNAs (sRNAs) including conservation, function, and interaction of the sRNAs with the RNA chaperone Hfq. In each of these organisms, an inventory of hundreds of cis- and trans-encoded sRNAs with regulatory potential was uncovered by high-throughput approaches and used for the construction of 39 sRNA family models. Genome-wide analyses of hfq mutants and co-immunoprecipitation with tagged Hfq revealed a major impact of the RNA chaperone on the physiology of plant-associated α-proteobacteria including symbiosis and virulence. Highly conserved members of the SmelC411 family are the AbcR sRNAs, which predominantly regulate ABC transport systems. AbcR1 of A. tumefaciens controls the uptake of the plant-generated signaling molecule GABA and is a central regulator of nutrient uptake systems. It has similar functions in S. meliloti and the human pathogen Brucella abortus. As RNA degradation is an important process in RNA-based gene regulation, a short overview on ribonucleases in plant-associated α-proteobacteria concludes this review.


RNA-binding protein; RNA-seq; Rhizobiales; antisense RNA; non-coding RNA; ribolysis; riboregulation; sRNA; α-proteobacteria

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