Cells adapt to shifts in their environment by remodeling transcription. Measuring changes in transcription at the genome scale is now routine, but defining the functional significance of individual genes within large gene expression datasets remains a major challenge. We applied a network-based algorithm to interrogate publicly available gene expression data to predict genes that serve major functional roles in Caulobacter crescentus stress survival. This approach identified GsrN, a conserved small RNA that is directly activated by the general stress sigma factor, σT, and functions as a potent post-transcriptional regulator of survival across distinct conditions including osmotic and oxidative stress. Under hydrogen peroxide stress, GsrN protects cells by base pairing with the leader of katG mRNA and activating expression of KatG catalase/peroxidase protein. We conclude that GsrN convenes a post-transcriptional layer of gene expression that serves a central functional role in Caulobacter stress physiology.
Tien,M.Z. Fiebig,A., Crosson, S. 2017. Gene network analysis identifies a central post-transcriptional regulator of cellular stress survival.
Elife. 2018 Mar 14;7. pii: e33684. doi: 10.7554/eLife.33684.