Making Sense of Antisense

Sammanfattning: RNA is a highly versatile molecule with functions that span from being a messenger in the transfer from DNA to protein, a catalytic molecule important for key processes in the cell to a regulator of gene expression. The post-genomic era and the use of new techniques to sequence RNAs have dramatically increased the number of regulatory RNAs during the last decade. Many of these are antisense RNAs, as for example the miRNA in eukaryotes and most sRNAs in bacteria. Antisense RNAs bind to specific targets by basepairing and thereby regulate their expression. A major step towards an understanding of the biological role of a miRNA or an sRNA is taken when one identifies which target it regulates. We have used RNA libraries to study the RNA interference pathway during development in the unicellular model organism Dictyostelium discoideum. We have also, by combining computational and experimental methods, discovered the first miRNAs in this organism and shown that they have different expression profiles during development. In parallel, we have developed a novel approach to predict targets for sRNAs in bacteria and used it to discover sRNA/target RNA interactions in the model organism Escherichia coli. We have found evidence for, and further characterized, three of these predicted sRNA/target interactions. For instance, the sRNA MicA is important for regulation of the outer membrane protein OmpA, the sRNAs OmrA and OmrB regulate the transcription factor CsgD, which is important in the sessile lifestyle of E. coli, and MicF regulates its own expression in a feed forward loop via the regulatory protein Lrp. In conclusion, we have discovered novel antisense RNAs, e.g. miRNAs in D. discoideum, developed an approach to identify targets for antisense RNAs, i.e. a target prediction program for sRNAs in bacteria, and verified and characterized some of the predicted antisense RNA interactions.