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posted on 23.02.2022, 11:46 authored by Jingwen Zhou, Huanqiang Zhao, Han Yang, Chunyan He, Wen Shu, Zelin Cui, Qingzhong Liu

Our previous proteomic analysis showed that small RNA SprC (one of the small pathogenicity island RNAs) of Staphylococcus aureus possesses the ability to regulate the expression of multiple bacterial proteins. In this study, our objective was to further provide insights into the regulatory role of SprC in gene transcription and metabolism of S. aureus.


Gene expression profiles were obtained from S. aureus N315 wild-type and its sprC deletion mutant strains by RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq), and differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were screened by R language with a |log2(fold change)| ≥1 and a false discovery rate (FDR) ≤ 0.05. Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis were carried out to understand the significance of the DEGs. The quality of RNA-seq was further verified by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR), mRNA target prediction, metabolomics analysis and transcript-level expression analysis of genes of sprC complementation strain.


A total of 2497 transcripts were identified, of which 60 transcripts expressions in sprC knockout strain were significantly different (37 up-regulated and 23 down-regulated DEGs). GO analysis showed that the functions of these DEGs were mainly concentrated in the biological process and molecular function related to metabolism and pathogenesis, and a higher number of genes were involved in the oxidation-reduction process, catalytic activity and binding. KEGG pathways enrichment analysis demonstrated that metabolism and pathogenesis were the most affected pathways, such as metabolic pathways, biosynthesis of secondary metabolites, purine metabolism, fructose and mannose metabolism and S. aureus infection. The qRT-PCR results of the DEGs with defined functions in the sprC deletion and complementation strains were in general agreement with those obtained by RNA-seq. Metabolomics analysis revealed 77 specific pathways involving metabolic pathways. Among them, many, such as metabolic pathways, biosynthesis of secondary metabolites and purine metabolism, were consistent with those enriched in the RNA-seq analysis.


This study offered valuable and reliable information about the regulatory roles of SprC in S. aureus biology through transcriptomics and metabolomics analysis. These results may provide clues for new potential targets for anti-virulence adjuvant therapy on S. aureus infection.