Comparative genomics provides insights into the RNA biology of anaerobic gut bacteria

Recent paper published in Molecular Microbiology

Würzburg, August 24, 2021 – In a study just published in Molecular Microbiology by the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI) in cooperation with the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg (JMU), the authors highlight potentials offered by bioinformatics in combination with experimental research approaches in the investigation of anaerobic gut bacteria.

The examination of RNA processes in bacteria has had a major impact on modern sciences over the past decades. RNA is the acronym for ribonucleic acid. Representatives of the microbiota, for example, use RNA molecules to colonize their niche in the human intestine. Thus, insights into RNA-mediated mechanisms may be important to better understand the role these bacteria play in human health.

Due to technical hurdles associated with experiments on obligate anaerobic bacterial species of the gut microbiota, research in recent years has focused in particular on aerobic model organisms, i.e., those that tolerate aerial oxygen. In the present study, the scientists now combine comparative genomics with experimental approaches, revealing global and specific aspects of the RNA biology of Bacteroides, a predominant microbiota member.

The present findings imply that much remains to be learned about the functions and mechanisms of RNA molecules and their binding proteins in obligate anaerobes. Further studies could follow, for example, to decipher RNA-mediated processes in the interaction of Bacteroides with intestinal epithelial cells.



Prezza, G.*, Ryan, D.*, Mädler, G., Reichardt, S., Barquist, L., Westermann, A.J. (2021): Comparative genomics provides structural and functional insights into Bacteroides RNA biology. Molecular Microbiology, 11.08.2021.

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Teaser image of this article: graphical model of the gut microbiota. Copyright: © Fotolia/Alex


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