Remodelling of the Escherichia coli outer membrane by two small regulatory RNAs


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Small non-coding RNAs that play important regulatory roles exist in numerous organisms. In Escherichia coli, about 60 small RNAs have been found and those that have been studied are involved in the response and adaptation to different stresses. RygA and RygB, two of these small RNAs, were identified on the basis of their conservation between different species and their ability to bind Hfq. They are adjacent on the chromosome and have sequence similarity at their 5′ and 3′ ends but distinct central regions, suggesting that they could regulate the expression of both common and distinct genes. A screen using a multicopy E. coli library led to identification of the response regulator OmpR and its associated sensor kinase EnvZ as positive regulators of rygA and rygB transcription. Therefore, RygA and RygB were renamed OmrA and OmrB respectively (for OmpR-regulated sRNAs A and B). When expressed at high levels, OmrA and OmrB RNAs negatively regulate the expression of several genes encoding multiple outer membrane proteins, including cirA, fecA, fepA and ompT. Taken together, these data suggest that OmrA and OmrB participate in the regulation of outer membrane composition in response to environmental conditions.