About this Research Topic
Regulatory RNAs play key roles in all living organisms. During an infection, bacteria reprogram the expression of their genes in response to environmental constraints in order to adapt their physiology and metabolism to host conditions. Non-coding RNAs have been recently identified as central players shaping these adaptive and pathogenic processes both in bacterium and in its host. RNAs could potentially affect all steps in the bacterial infection cycle and contribute greatly to the interactions of pathogens with their hosts, as well as other members of microbial communities, including commensal microbiota and bacteriophages.
Since the discovery of the first regulatory RNAs in bacteria, the amount of data on potential RNA regulators has been consistently increasing, particularly over the last couple of years. Recent developments using powerful genome-wide approaches for transcriptome and molecular interaction analysis filled gaps in our knowledge about the complexity of the transcriptional landscape in bacteria, as well as RNA and RNA-binding protein interactomes. These technological advances led to the identification of large number of highly diverse regulatory RNAs, as well as their potential targets. However, for the majority of these RNAs, their biological roles in the fine tuning of bacterial physiology and metabolism, and detailed molecular mechanisms of action, remain uncovered. Although common principles of RNA-based regulatory mechanisms have been identified in all bacteria, RNAs are extremely diverse in sequence and mode of action, and, in many cases, are unique to their bacterial group or species, and could even be largely connected to the biological niches and environments occupied by said bacteria. Thanks to recent technological advances, we have begun to appreciate the importance of RNAs in the regulatory networks that govern bacterial physiology. Future studies aim to answer emerging questions about the roles of RNAs in the regulatory crosstalk of bacterial pathogens with their hosts and within complex microbial communities. Future studies should explore the role of RNAs in the interactions between mobile genetic elements and the bacterial chromosome, evolutionary aspects of regulatory RNA transfer and maintenance, and regulatory RNA integration into complex genetic circuits. Such accumulating knowledge should provide an excellent basis for innovative therapeutic approaches to control pathogen development and dissemination of adaptive traits within bacterial populations.
This Research Topic will accept Original Research Articles, Reviews and Opinion pieces covering the following aspects of RNA-based regulation in pathogenic bacteria:
• The diversity of pathophysiological and metabolic processes targeted by RNAs and the diversity of the RNAs themselves (small RNAs, cis-antisense RNAs, etc)
• RNA-mediated host-pathogen crosstalk (secreted RNAs, RNA in extracellular vesicles)
• RNA-based metabolic and physiological regulations in response to stressors during infection
• RNAs within mobile genetic elements, including prophage-, pathogenicity island- and plasmid-associated RNAs
• Applications of regulatory RNAs in the development of new therapeutic strategies against pathogens
Keywords: metabolism, physiology and virulence control, diversity of regulatory RNAs, RNA-based mechanisms, plant, human, animal pathogens, host-pathogen interactions
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