A sequence-based approach for prediction of CsrA/RsmA targets in bacteria with experimental validation inPseudomonas aeruginosa

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Abstract

CsrA/RsmA homologs are an extensive family of ribonucleic acid (RNA)-binding proteins that function as global post-transcriptional regulators controlling important cellular processes such as secondary metabolism, motility, biofilm formation and the production and secretion of virulence factors in diverse bacterial species. While direct messenger RNA binding by CsrA/RsmA has been studied in detail for some genes, it is anticipated that there are numerous additional, as yet undiscovered, direct targets that mediate its global regulation. To assist in the discovery of these targets, we propose a sequence-based approach to predict genes directly regulated by these regulators. In this work, we develop a computer code (CSRA_TARGET) implementing this approach, which leads to predictions for several novel targets inEscherichia coliandPseudomonas aeruginosa. The predicted targets in other bacteria, specificallySalmonella entericaserovar Typhimurium, Pectobacterium carotovorumandLegionella pneumophila, also include global regulators that control virulence in these pathogens, unraveling intricate indirect regulatory roles for CsrA/RsmA. We have experimentally validated four predicted RsmA targets inP. aeruginosa. The sequence-based approach developed in this work can thus lead to several testable predictions for direct targets of CsrA homologs, thereby complementing and accelerating efforts to unravel global regulation by this important family of proteins.

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