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REVIEW: Role of Small Noncoding RNAs in Bacterial Metabolism

T. L. Azhikina1*, D. V. Ignatov1, E. G. Salina2, M. V. Fursov2, and A. S. Kaprelyants2

1Shemyakin and Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, 117997 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: tatazhik@ibch.ru

2Bach Institute of Biochemistry, Federal Research Centre “Fundamentals of Biotechnology”, Russian Academy of Sciences, 119071 Moscow, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received June 5, 2015; Revision received August 17, 2015
The study of prokaryotic small RNAs is one of the most important directions in modern molecular biology. In the last decade, multiple short regulatory transcripts have been found in prokaryotes, and for some of them functional roles have been elucidated. Bacterial small RNAs are implicated in the regulation of transcription and translation, and they affect mRNA stability and gene expression via different mechanisms, including changes in mRNA conformation and interaction with proteins. Most small RNAs are expressed in response to external factors, and they help bacteria to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Bacterial infections of various origins remain a serious medical problem, despite significant progress in fighting them. Discovery of mechanisms that bacteria employ to survive in infected organisms and ways to block these mechanisms is promising for finding new treatments for bacterial infections. Regulation of pathogenesis with small RNAs is an attractive example of such mechanisms. This review considers the role of bacterial small RNAs in adaptation to stress conditions. We pay special attention to the role of small RNAs in Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, in particular during establishment and maintenance of latent infection.
KEY WORDS: bacteria, small noncoding RNAs, Hfq, regulation of gene expression, stress, virulence, Mycobacterium tuberculosis

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297915130015