Base pairing small RNAs and their roles in global regulatory networks

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2010 Sep;34(5):866-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2010.00241.x. Epub 2010 Jun 23.


Bacteria use a range of RNA regulators collectively termed small RNAs (sRNAs) to help respond to changes in the environment. Many sRNAs regulate their target mRNAs through limited base-pairing interactions. Ongoing characterization of base-pairing sRNAs in bacteria has started to reveal how these sRNAs participate in global regulatory networks. These networks can be broken down into smaller regulatory circuits that have characteristic behaviors and functions. In this review, we describe the specific regulatory circuits that incorporate base-pairing sRNAs and the importance of each circuit in global regulation. Because most of these circuits were originally identified as network motifs in transcriptional networks, we also discuss why sRNAs may be used over protein transcription factors to help transduce environmental signals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Base Pairing / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / genetics
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Small Untranslated
  • Transcription Factors