Identification of microRNA-size, small RNAs in Escherichia coli

Curr Microbiol. 2013 Nov;67(5):609-13. doi: 10.1007/s00284-013-0411-9. Epub 2013 Jun 20.


Noncoding small regulatory RNA molecules control gene expression and microRNAs provide one of the best examples in eukaryotes. However, bacterial RNAs of comparable size to eukaryotic microRNAs have received little attention. Here, we demonstrate the existence of microRNA-size, small RNAs (msRNAs) in the model bacterium Escherichia coli. We examined the small RNAs in E. coli using a deep sequencing approach, and analyzed 33.2 million small RNA clone reads after size fractionation. Bioinformatic analysis of the whole set revealed more than 400 individual msRNA species. The cellular contents of selected highly expressed msRNAs were verified by quantitative RT-PCR and northern blotting. Although, the functional significance of these RNAs is unclear, their high abundance suggests that they may play specialized roles in bacteria, analogous to miRNAs in eukaryotes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Order
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / chemistry
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / genetics*


  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Small Untranslated