The world of asRNAs in Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Lejars et al., 2020

The world of asRNAs in Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.
Lejars et al., 2020

Authors

Maxence Lejars, Eliane Hajnsdorf

Abstract

Bacteria exhibit an amazing diversity of mechanisms controlling gene expression to both maintain essential functions and modulate accessory functions in response to environmental cues. Over the years, it has become clear that bacterial regulation of gene expression is still far from fully understood. This review focuses on antisense RNAs (asRNAs), a class of RNA regulators defined by their location in cis and their perfect complementarity with their targets, as opposed to small RNAs (sRNAs) which act in trans with only short regions of complementarity. For a long time, only few functional asRNAs in bacteria were known and were almost exclusively found on mobile genetic elements (MGEs), thus, their importance among the other regulators was underestimated. However, the extensive application of transcriptomic approaches has revealed the ubiquity of asRNAs in bacteria. This review aims to present the landscape of studied asRNAs in bacteria by comparing 67 characterized asRNAs from both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. First we describe the inherent ambiguity in the existence of asRNAs in bacteria, second, we highlight their diversity and their involvement in all aspects of bacterial life. Finally we compare their location and potential mode of action toward their target between Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria and present tendencies and exceptions that could lead to a better understanding of asRNA functions.