A high-resolution transcriptome map identifies small RNA regulation of metabolism in the gut microbe Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron

Nat Commun. 2020 Jul 16;11(1):3557. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17348-5.


Bacteria of the genus Bacteroides are common members of the human intestinal microbiota and important degraders of polysaccharides in the gut. Among them, the species Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron has emerged as the model organism for functional microbiota research. Here, we use differential RNA sequencing (dRNA-seq) to generate a single-nucleotide resolution transcriptome map of B. thetaiotaomicron grown under defined laboratory conditions. An online browser, called 'Theta-Base' ( www.helmholtz-hiri.de/en/datasets/bacteroides ), is launched to interrogate the obtained gene expression data and annotations of ~4500 transcription start sites, untranslated regions, operon structures, and 269 noncoding RNA elements. Among the latter is GibS, a conserved, 145 nt-long small RNA that is highly expressed in the presence of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine as sole carbon source. We use computational predictions and experimental data to determine the secondary structure of GibS and identify its target genes. Our results indicate that sensing of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine induces GibS expression, which in turn modifies the transcript levels of metabolic enzymes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron / genetics*
  • Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron / growth & development
  • Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron / metabolism
  • Culture Media / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / chemistry
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / genetics*
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Transcriptome*
  • Web Browser


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Culture Media
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Small Untranslated
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • Acetylglucosamine