Characterization of MicA interactions suggests a potential novel means of gene regulation by small non-coding RNAs
Nowadays the identification of small RNAs (sRNAs) and characterization of their role within regulatory networks takes a prominent place in deciphering complex bacterial phenotypes. Compared to the study of other components of bacterial cells, this is a relatively new but fast-growing research field. Although reports on new sRNAs appear regularly, some sRNAs are already subject of research for a longer time. One of such sRNAs is MicA, a sRNA best described for its role in outer membrane remodeling, but probably having a much broader function than anticipated. An overview of what we have learnt from MicA led to the conclusion that even for this well-described sRNA, we still do not have the overall picture. More general, the story of MicA might become an experimental lead for unraveling the many sRNAs with unknown functions. In this review, three important topics in the sRNA field are covered, exemplified from the perspective of MicA: (i) identification of new sRNAs, (ii) target identification and unraveling the biological function, (iii) structural analysis. The complex mechanisms of action of MicA deliver some original insights in the sRNA field which includes the existence of dimer formation or simultaneous cis and trans regulation, and might further inspire the understanding of the function of other sRNAs.