• The CRISPR/Cas system in Neisseria meningitidis affects bacterial adhesion to human nasopharyngeal epithelial cells.

      Heidrich, Nadja; Hagmann, Antony; Bauriedl, Saskia; Vogel, Jörg; Schoen, Christoph; HIRI, Helmoltz-Institut für RNA-basierteInfektionsforschung, Josef-Schneider-Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (2018-07-30)
      Neisseria meningitidis, a commensal β-proteobacterium of the human nasopharynx, constitutes a worldwide leading cause of sepsis and epidemic meningitis. A recent genome-wide association study suggested an association of its type II-C CRISPR/Cas system with carriage and thus less invasive lineages. Here, we show that knock-out strains lacking the Cas9 protein are impaired in the adhesion to human nasopharyngeal cells which constitutes a central step in the pathogenesis of invasive meningococcal disease. Transcriptome sequencing data further suggest that meningococcal Cas9 does not affect the expression of surface adhesins but rather exerts its effect on cell adhesion in an indirect manner. Consequently, we speculate that the meningococcal CRISPR/Cas system exerts novel functions beyond its established role in defence against foreign DNA.
    • The primary transcriptome of Neisseria meningitidis and its interaction with the RNA chaperone Hfq.

      Heidrich, Nadja; Bauriedl, Saskia; Barquist, Lars; Li, Lei; Schoen, Christoph; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef Schneider-Straß2 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (2017-06-02)
      Neisseria meningitidis is a human commensal that can also cause life-threatening meningitis and septicemia. Despite growing evidence for RNA-based regulation in meningococci, their transcriptome structure and output of regulatory small RNAs (sRNAs) are incompletely understood. Using dRNA-seq, we have mapped at single-nucleotide resolution the primary transcriptome of N. meningitidis strain 8013. Annotation of 1625 transcriptional start sites defines transcription units for most protein-coding genes but also reveals a paucity of classical σ70-type promoters, suggesting the existence of activators that compensate for the lack of -35 consensus sequences in N. meningitidis. The transcriptome maps also reveal 65 candidate sRNAs, a third of which were validated by northern blot analysis. Immunoprecipitation with the RNA chaperone Hfq drafts an unexpectedly large post-transcriptional regulatory network in this organism, comprising 23 sRNAs and hundreds of potential mRNA targets. Based on this data, using a newly developed gfp reporter system we validate an Hfq-dependent mRNA repression of the putative colonization factor PrpB by the two trans-acting sRNAs RcoF1/2. Our genome-wide RNA compendium will allow for a better understanding of meningococcal transcriptome organization and riboregulation with implications for colonization of the human nasopharynx.