Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Wolbachia small noncoding RNAs and their role in cross-kingdom communications.

PMID 25512495


In prokaryotes, small noncoding RNAs (snRNAs) of 50-500 nt are produced that are important in bacterial virulence and response to environmental stimuli. Here, we identified and characterized snRNAs from the endosymbiotic bacteria, Wolbachia, which are widespread in invertebrates and cause reproductive manipulations. Most importantly, some strains of Wolbachia inhibit replication of several vector-borne pathogens in insects. We demonstrate that two abundant snRNAs, WsnRNA-46 and WsnRNA-49, are expressed in Wolbachia from noncoding RNA transcripts that contain precursors with stem-loop structures. WsnRNAs were detected in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with the wMelPop-CLA strain of Wolbachia and in Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans infected with wMelPop and wAu strains, respectively, indicating that the WsnRNAs are conserved across species and strains. In addition, we show that the WsnRNAs may potentially regulate host genes and Wolbachia genes. Our findings provide evidence for the production of functional snRNAs by Wolbachia that play roles in cross-kingdom communication between the endosymbiont and the host.