Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.104, No.4, 1721-1735, 2020
The small RNA chaperone Hfq is a critical regulator for bacterial biosynthesis of selenium nanoparticles and motility in Rahnella aquatilis
The RNA chaperone, Hfq, is a global post-transcriptional regulator that plays an important role in regulating pleiotropic functions, such as cell growth and motility, stress tolerance, and virulence to host, in many Gram-negative bacteria. This study examined the functional roles of Hfq in Rahnella aquatilis HX2, a plant beneficial, selenium nanoparticles (SeNPs)-producing soil bacterium. A mutant HX2 increment hfq with an in-frame deletion within the hfq gene in R. aquatilis HX2 was constructed and tested for various phenotypic features. Bacterial growth, motility, selenite reduction, and SeNPs production were compared between the mutant, the wild-type, and the complementation strain. The hfq gene deletion delayed the growth of strain HX2, with a lower bacterial population during the stationary phase, and significantly impaired the swimming motility of the bacterium, showing a smaller motility ring on the plate. The hfq mutation also dramatically declined microbial-induced reduction of selenite and SeNPs production in HX2, which was independent of cell growth. The introduction of a trans-expressed hfq gene into HX2 increment hfq for complementation completely restored impacted phenotypes. In addition, reverse transcription real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) analysis revealed that the expression of ten genes involved in bacterial growth and survival, motility and chemotaxis, and selenite or seleno-compound metabolism were influenced by Hfq loss-of-function by at least two-fold. Six genes including two involved in SeNPs production were positively regulated by hfq, while other four genes were negatively regulated. Homolog search suggested that the rprA gene might encode a small RNA regulated by Hfq in R. aquatilis HX2. Overall, the present study provides novel information about the function of Hfq and the regulation of bacterial biosynthesis of SeNPs.