RgsA is a phylogenetically conserved small regulatory RNA (sRNA) in Pseudomonas species. This sRNA has been shown to be directly controlled by the major stationary phase and stress sigma factor σS (RpoS), and also indirectly regulated by the GacS/GacA two-component system. However, the role and the regulatory targets of this sRNA remain unclear.
Here, the research group led by Professor Shiyun Chen in WIV found that two direct regulatory targets of RgsA, the mRNAs coding for the global transcriptional regulator Fis and the acyl carrier protein AcpP, were identified in P. aeruginosa. RgsA downregulates the synthesis of Fis and AcpP by base-pairing, and this regulation requires the RNA chaperone protein Hfq. Alignment of RgsA homologs in Pseudomonas revealed a conserved core region, which is strictly required for RgsA target recognition. Specifically, RgsA inhibits fis expression via an 11 + 11 bp RNA duplex, whereas this interaction region is not sufficient for repression and the 35 nt downstream region is also required. Interestingly, two functional start codons initiate fis mRNA translation and both are repressed by RgsA. Furthermore, deletion of rgsA significantly increased swarming motility in P. aeruginosa.
Together, this study suggests a novel regulatory role of sRNA in which the versatile transcriptional regulator Fis and the stress regulator RpoS are connected by RgsA.