The WHO has recently classified Neisseria gonorrhoeae as a super-bacterium due to the rapid spread of antibiotic resistant derivatives and an overall dramatic increase in infection incidences. Genome sequencing has identified potential genes, however, little is known about the transcriptional organization and the presence of non-coding RNAs in gonococci. We performed RNA sequencing to define the transcriptome and the transcriptional start sites of all gonococcal genes and operons. Numerous new transcripts including 253 potentially non-coding RNAs transcribed from intergenic regions or antisense to coding genes were identified. Strikingly, strong antisense transcription was detected for the phase-variable opa genes coding for a family of adhesins and invasins in pathogenic Neisseria, that may have regulatory functions. Based on the defined transcriptional start sites, promoter motifs were identified. We further generated and sequenced a high density Tn5 transposon library to predict a core of 827 gonococcal essential genes, 133 of which have no known function. Our combined RNA-Seq and Tn-Seq approach establishes a detailed map of gonococcal genes and defines the first core set of essential gonococcal genes.
© The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.