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Summary

In the recent years, the number of drug- and multi-drug-resistant microbial strains has increased rapidly. Therefore, the need to identify innovative approaches for development of novel anti-infectives and new therapeutic targets is of high priority in global health care. The detection of small RNAs (sRNAs) in bacteria has attracted considerable attention as an emerging class of new gene expression regulators. Several experimental technologies to predict sRNA have been established for the Gram-negative model organism Escherichia coli. In many respects, sRNA screens in this model system have set a blueprint for the global and functional identification of sRNAs for Gram-positive microbes, but the functional role of sRNAs in colonization and pathogenicity for Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Enterococcus faecalis and Clostridium difficile is almost completely unknown. Here, we report the current knowledge about the sRNAs of these socioeconomically relevant Gram-positive pathogens, overview the state-of-the-art high-throughput sRNA screening methods and summarize bioinformatics approaches for genome-wide sRNA identification and target prediction. Finally, we discuss the use of modified peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) as a novel tool to inactivate potential sRNA and their applications in rapid and specific detection of pathogenic bacteria.