Base pairing small RNAs and their roles in global regulatory networks

Authors

  • Chase L. Beisel,

    1. Cell Biology and Metabolism Program, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD, USA
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  • Gisela Storz

    1. Cell Biology and Metabolism Program, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD, USA
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  • Editor: Cecilia Arraiano

Correspondence: Gisela Storz, Cell Biology and Metabolism Program, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD 20892-5430, USA. Tel.: +1 301 496 4722; fax: +1 301 402 0078; e-mail: storz@helix.nih.gov

Abstract

Bacteria use a range of RNA regulators collectively termed small RNAs (sRNAs) to help respond to changes in the environment. Many sRNAs regulate their target mRNAs through limited base-pairing interactions. Ongoing characterization of base-pairing sRNAs in bacteria has started to reveal how these sRNAs participate in global regulatory networks. These networks can be broken down into smaller regulatory circuits that have characteristic behaviors and functions. In this review, we describe the specific regulatory circuits that incorporate base-pairing sRNAs and the importance of each circuit in global regulation. Because most of these circuits were originally identified as network motifs in transcriptional networks, we also discuss why sRNAs may be used over protein transcription factors to help transduce environmental signals.

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