Post-transcriptional control of the essential enzyme MurF by a small regulatory RNA in Brucella abortus

Kellie A. King, Angela H. Benton, Mitchell T. Caudill, S. Tristan Stoyanof, Lin Kang, Pawel Michalak, Kevin K. Lahmers, Paul M. Dunman, Tanner G. DeHart, Saadman S. Ahmad, Brandon L. Jutras, Katy Poncin, Xavier De Bolle, Clayton C. Caswell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brucella abortus is a facultative, intracellular, zoonotic pathogen that resides inside macrophages during infection. This is a specialized niche where B. abortus encounters various stresses as it navigates through the macrophage. In order to survive this harsh environment, B. abortus utilizes post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression through the use of small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs). Here, we characterize a Brucella sRNAs called MavR (for MurF- and virulence-regulating sRNA), and we demonstrate that MavR is required for the full virulence of B. abortus in macrophages and in a mouse model of chronic infection. Transcriptomic and proteomic studies revealed that a major regulatory target of MavR is MurF. MurF is an essential protein that catalyzes the final cytoplasmic step in peptidoglycan (PG) synthesis; however, we did not detect any differences in the amount or chemical composition of PG in the ΔmavR mutant. A 6-nucleotide regulatory seed region within MavR was identified, and mutation of this seed region resulted in dysregulation of MurF production, as well as significant attenuation of infection in a mouse model. Overall, the present study underscores the importance of sRNA regulation in the physiology and virulence of Brucella.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10.1111/mmi.15207
Pages (from-to)129-141
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Brucella abortus
  • small RNAs
  • virulence


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