Natural antisense RNAs as mRNA regulatory elements in bacteria: a review on function and applications

Cell Mol Biol Lett. 2016 Jul 28;21:6. doi: 10.1186/s11658-016-0007-z. eCollection 2016.


Naturally occurring antisense RNAs are small, diffusible, untranslated transcripts that pair to target RNAs at specific regions of complementarity to control their biological function by regulating gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. This review focuses on known cases of antisense RNA control in prokaryotes and provides an overview of some natural RNA-based mechanisms that bacteria use to modulate gene expression, such as mRNA sensors, riboswitches and antisense RNAs. We also highlight recent advances in RNA-based technology. The review shows that studies on both natural and synthetic systems are reciprocally beneficial.

Keywords: Bacteria; Cis-asRNA; Hfq protein; Natural antisense; RNA engineering; RNA silencing; RNA thermosensors; Regulation; Riboswitch; Trans-asRNA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • RNA, Antisense*
  • RNA, Messenger*


  • RNA, Antisense
  • RNA, Messenger