Sibling rivalry: related bacterial small RNAs and their redundant and non-redundant roles
Caswell, Clayton C.
Oglesby-Sherrouse, Amanda G.
Murphy, Erin R.
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Small RNA molecules (sRNAs) are now recognized as key regulators controlling bacterial gene expression, as sRNAs provide a quick and efficient means of positively or negatively altering the expression of specific genes. To date, numerous sRNAs have been identified and characterized in a myriad of bacterial species, but more recently, a theme in bacterial sRNAs has emerged: the presence of more than one highly related sRNAs produced by a given bacterium, here termed sibling sRNAs. Sibling sRNAs are those that are highly similar at the nucleotide level, and while it might be expected that sibling sRNAs exert identical regulatory functions on the expression of target genes based on their high degree of relatedness, emerging evidence is demonstrating that this is not always the case. Indeed, there are several examples of bacterial sibling sRNAs with non-redundant regulatory functions, but there are also instances of apparent regulatory redundancy between sibling sRNAs. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the current knowledge of bacterial sibling sRNAs, and also discusses important questions about the significance and evolutionary implications of this emerging class of regulators.