RNA biology

Experimental tools to identify RNA-protein interactions in Helicobacter pylori.

PMID 22546936


Helicobacter pylori, one of the most prevalent human pathogens, used to be thought to lack small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) which are otherwise considered abundant in all bacteria. However, our recent analysis of the primary transcriptome of H. pylori discovered an unexpectedly large number of sRNAs, and suggested that this model organism also uses riboregulation to control the expression of its genes. Nonetheless, whereas most enterobacterial sRNAs require the RNA chaperone Hfq for function, Epsilonproteobacteria including H. pylori seem to have no Hfq homologue, which prompted us to search for other auxiliary proteins in sRNA-mediated regulation. Therefore, we have developed two orthogonal methods to isolate and investigate in vivo and in vitro assembled RNA-protein complexes in H. pylori: (i) an affinity chromatography strategy based on aptamer-tagged sRNAs of interest to identify their protein binding partners; and (ii) a rapid method for chromosomal FLAG-tagging of proteins to facilitate co-immunoprecipitation of associated RNA species. Using these methods, we have identified RNA-protein interactions between the ribosomal protein S1 and various mRNAs and sRNAs of H. pylori. Moreover, both methods reported a stable RNA-protein complex between the abundant HPnc6910 sRNA and HP1334, a protein of unknown function that is encoded downstream of HPnc6910. Given that 50% of all bacteria may lack Hfq, our methods can be useful to identify RNA-protein interactions in a wider range of bacterial pathogens.

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