Transfer RNA (tRNA) is widely known for its key role in decoding mRNA into protein. Despite their necessity and relatively short nucleotide sequences, a large diversity of gene structures and RNA secondary structures of pre-tRNAs and mature tRNAs have recently been discovered in the three domains of life. Growing evidences of disrupted tRNA genes in the genomes of Archaea reveals unique gene structures such as, intron-containing tRNA, split tRNA, and permuted tRNA. Coding sequence for these tRNAs are either separated with introns, fragmented, or permuted at the genome level. Although evolutionary scenario behind the tRNA gene disruption is still unclear, diversity of tRNA structure seems to be co-evolved with their processing enzyme, so-called RNA splicing endonuclease. Metazoan mitochondrial tRNAs (mtRNAs) are known for their unique lack of either one or two arms from the typical tRNA cloverleaf structure, while still maintaining functionality. Recently identified nematode-specific V-arm containing tRNAs (nev-tRNAs) possess long variable arms that are specific to eukaryotic class II tRNA(Ser) and tRNA(Leu) but also decode class I tRNA codons. Moreover, many tRNA-like sequences have been found in the genomes of different organisms and viruses. Thus, this review is aimed to cover the latest knowledge on tRNA gene diversity and further recapitulate the evolutionary and biological aspects that caused such uniqueness.
The limited locations of tRNA introns are crucial for eukaryal tRNA-splicing endonuclease recognition. However, our analysis of the nuclear genome of an early-diverged red alga, Cyanidioschyzon merolae, demonstrated the first evidence of nuclear-encoded tRNA genes that contain ectopic and/or multiple introns. Some genes exhibited both intronic and permuted structures in which the 3-half of the tRNA coding sequence lies upstream of the 5-half, and an intron is inserted into either half. These highly disrupted tRNA genes, which account for 63% of all nuclear tRNA genes, are expressed via the orderly and sequential processing of bulge-helix-bulge (BHB) motifs at intron-exon junctions and termini of permuted tRNA precursors, probably by a C. merolae tRNA-splicing endonuclease with an unidentified subunit architecture. The results revealed a considerable diversity in eukaryal tRNA intron properties and endonuclease architectures, which will help to elucidate the acquisition mechanism of the BHB-mediated disrupted tRNA genes.
The cAMP receptor protein (CRP)/fumarate and nitrate reduction regulatory protein (FNR)-type transcription factors (TFs) are members of a well-characterized global TF family in bacteria and have two conserved domains: the N-terminal ligand-binding domain for small molecules (e.g., cAMP, NO, or O(2)) and the C-terminal DNA-binding domain. Although the CRP/FNR-type TFs recognize very similar consensus DNA target sequences, they can regulate different sets of genes in response to environmental signals. To clarify the evolution of the CRP/FNR-type TFs throughout the bacterial kingdom, we undertook a comprehensive computational analysis of a large number of annotated CRP/FNR-type TFs and the corresponding bacterial genomes. Based on the amino acid sequence similarities among 1,455 annotated CRP/FNR-type TFs, spectral clustering classified the TFs into 12 representative groups, and stepwise clustering allowed us to propose a possible process of protein evolution. Although each cluster mainly consists of functionally distinct members (e.g., CRP, NTC, FNR-like protein, and FixK), FNR-related TFs are found in several groups and are distributed in a wide range of bacterial phyla in the sequence similarity network. This result suggests that the CRP/FNR-type TFs originated from an ancestral FNR protein, involved in nitrogen fixation. Furthermore, a phylogenetic profiling analysis showed that combinations of TFs and their target genes have fluctuated dynamically during bacterial evolution. A genome-wide analysis of TF-binding sites also suggested that the diversity of the transcriptional regulatory system was derived by the stepwise adaptation of TF-binding sites to the evolution of TFs.
Class II transfer RNAs (tRNAs), including tRNA(Leu) and tRNA(Ser), have an additional stem and loop structure, the long variable arm (V-arm). Here, we describe Class II tRNAs with a unique anticodon corresponding to neither leucine nor serine. Because these tRNAs are specifically conserved among the nematodes, we have called them nematode-specific V-arm-containing tRNAs (nev-tRNAs). The expression of nev-tRNA genes in Caenorhabditis elegans was confirmed experimentally. A comparative sequence analysis suggested that the nev-tRNAs derived phylogenetically from tRNA(Leu). In vitro aminoacylation assays showed that nev-tRNA(Gly) and nev-tRNA(Ile) are only charged with leucine, which is inconsistent with their anticodons. Furthermore, the deletion and mutation of crucial determinants for leucylation in nev-tRNA led to a marked loss of activity. An in vitro translation analysis showed that nev-tRNA(Gly) decodes GGG as leucine instead of the universal glycine code, indicating that nev-tRNAs can be incorporated into ribosomes and participate in protein biosynthesis. Our findings provide the first example of unexpected tRNAs that do not consistently obey the general translation rules for higher eukaryotes.
Studies of small noncoding RNAs (sRNAs) have been conducted predominantly using culturable organisms, and the acquisition of further information about sRNAs from global environments containing uncultured organisms now is very important. In this study, hot spring water (57°C, pH 8.1) was collected directly from the underground environment at depths of 250 to 1,000 m in Yunohama, Japan, and small RNA sequences obtained from the environment were analyzed. A phylogenetic analysis of both archaeal and bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences was conducted, and the results suggested the presence of unique species in the environment, corresponding to the Archaeal Richmond Mine Acidophilic Nanoorganisms (ARMAN) group and three new Betaproteobacteria. A metatranscriptomic analysis identified 64,194 (20,057 nonredundant) cDNA sequences. Of these cDNAs, 90% were either tRNAs, tRNA fragments, rRNAs, or rRNA fragments, whereas 2,181 reads (10%) were classified as previously uncharacterized putative candidate sRNAs. Among these, 15 were particularly abundant, 14 of which showed no sequence similarity to any known noncoding RNA, and at least six of which form very stable RNA secondary structures. The analysis of a large number of tRNA fragments suggested that unique relationships exist between the anticodons of the tRNAs and the sites of tRNA degradation. Previous bacterial tRNA degradation studies have been limited to specific organisms, such as Escherichia coli and Streptomyces coelicolor, and the current results suggest that specific tRNA decay occurs more frequently than previously expected.
We discovered that the PF1549 gene in Pyrococcus furiosus encodes a very heat-stable RNA 3-terminal phosphate cyclase (Pf-Rtc). Although all previously reported Rtc proteins are ATP-dependent enzymes, we found that Pf-Rtc requires GTP for its cyclase activity at 95 °C. Low-level activation of the enzyme was also observed in the presence of dGTP but not other dNTPs, indicating that the guanine base is very important for Pf-Rtc activity. We analyzed a series of GTP analogues and found that the conversion from GTP to GMP is important for Pf-Rtc activity and that an excess of GMP inhibits this activity. Gel-shift analysis clearly showed that the RNA-binding activity of Pf-Rtc is totally dependent on the linear form of the 3-terminal phosphate, with an apparent K(d) value of 20 nm at 95°C. Furthermore, we found that Pf-Rtc may contribute to GTP-dependent RNA ligation activity through the PF0027 protein (a 2-5 RNA ligase-like protein in P. furiosus). The possible roles of Pf-Rtc and the importance of terminal phosphate structures in RNA are discussed.
Many reports have been accumulated describing not a few microRNAs (miRNAs) in eukaryotes target viral genomes, whereas a number of viruses also encode miRNA genes. These small RNAs play important roles on viral infection and their replication. In germ cells, another small RNA, piRNA is reported to repress endogenous transposons. Furthermore, CRISPR RNA target virus/phage genomes in both archaea and bacteria. Therefore, small RNA is deeply involved in a broad range of biological defense systems. This system may be applied not only to control replication of viruses or phages but also provide implication on regulating the growth of microorganisms including pathogenic bacteria.
An increasing number of studies have reported that approximately 400 microRNAs (miRNAs), encoded by vertebrate viruses, regulate the expression of both host and viral genes. Many studies have used computational and/or experimental analyses to identify the target genes of miRNAs, thereby enabling us to understand miRNA functions. Here, we suggest that important aspects become apparent when we focus on conserved viral miRNAs, although these miRNA sequences generally show little similarity among viral species. Reliable viral miRNA-target gene pairs can be efficiently identified using evolutionary information. In this review, we summarize information on (i) the nucleotide sequence conservation among viral miRNAs and (ii) the RNAs targeted by viral miRNAs. Recent advances in these topics are discussed.
tRNA splicing endonucleases, essential enzymes found in Archaea and Eukaryotes, are involved in the processing of pre-tRNA molecules. In Archaea, three types of splicing endonuclease [homotetrameric: ?(4), homodimeric: ?(2), and heterotetrameric: (??)(2)] have been identified, each representing different substrate specificity during the tRNA intron cleavage. Here, we discovered a fourth type of archaeal tRNA splicing endonuclease (?(2)) in the genome of the acidophilic archaeon Candidatus Micrarchaeum acidiphilum, referred to as ARMAN-2 and its closely related species, ARMAN-1. The enzyme consists of two duplicated catalytic units and one structural unit encoded on a single gene, representing a novel three-unit architecture. Homodimeric formation was confirmed by cross-linking assay, and site-directed mutagenesis determined that the conserved L10-pocket interaction between catalytic and structural unit is necessary for the assembly. A tRNA splicing assay reveal that ?(2) endonuclease cleaves both canonical and non-canonical bulge-helix-bulge motifs, similar to that of (??)(2) endonuclease. Unlike other ARMAN and Euryarchaeota, tRNAs found in ARMAN-2 are highly disrupted by introns at various positions, which again resemble the properties of archaeal species with (??)(2) endonuclease. Thus, the discovery of ?(2) endonuclease in an archaeon deeply branched within Euryarchaeota represents a new example of the coevolution of tRNA and their processing enzymes.
In Escherichia coli, approximately 100 regulatory small RNAs (sRNAs) have been identified experimentally and many more have been predicted by various methods. To provide a comprehensive overview of sRNAs, we analysed the low-molecular-weight RNAs (< 200 nt) of E. coli with deep sequencing, because the regulatory RNAs in bacteria are usually 50-200 nt in length.
Recent studies have identified thousands of sense-antisense gene pairs across different genomes by computational mapping of cDNA sequences. These studies have shown that approximately 25% of all transcriptional units in the human and mouse genomes are involved in cis-sense-antisense pairs. However, the number of known sense-antisense pairs remains limited because currently available cDNA sequences represent only a fraction of the total number of transcripts comprising the transcriptome of each cell type.
We have developed a screening system for artificial small RNAs (sRNAs) that inhibit the growth of Escherichia coli. In this system, we used a plasmid library to express artificial sRNAs (approximately 200 bases long) containing 60 bases of random nucleotide sequence. The induced expression of the known rydB sRNA in the system reduced the amount of its possible target mRNA, rpoS, supporting the reliability of the method. To isolate clones of sRNAs that inhibited the growth of E. coli, we used two successive screening steps: (i) colony size selection on plates and (ii) monitoring E. coli growth in a 96-well plate format. As a result, 83 artificial sRNAs were identified that showed a range of inhibitory effects on bacterial growth. We also introduced nucleotide replacements into one of the highly inhibitory sRNA clones, H12, which partially abolished the inhibition of bacterial growth, suggesting that bacterial growth was inhibited in a sequence-specific manner.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are members of the small non-coding RNAs, which are principally known for their functions as post-transcriptional regulators of target genes. Regulation by miRNAs is triggered by the translational repression or degradation of their complementary target messenger RNAs (mRNAs). The growing number of reported miRNAs and the estimate that hundreds or thousands of genes are regulated by them suggest a magnificent gene regulatory network in which these molecules are embedded. Indeed, recent reports have suggested critical roles for miRNAs in various biological functions, such as cell differentiation, development, oncogenesis, and the immune responses, which are mediated by systems-wide changes in gene expression profiles. Therefore, it is essential to analyze this complex regulatory network at the transcriptome and proteome levels, which should be possible with approaches that include both high-throughput experiments and computational methodologies. Here, we introduce several systems-level approaches that have been applied to miRNA research, and discuss their potential to reveal miRNA-guided gene regulatory systems and their impacts on biological functions.
We conducted a 3-year longitudinal study concerning an association between cognitive function and cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) seen on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in elderly type 2 diabetic patients.
Although recent evidence has indicated that type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in the elderly is a risk factor for cognitive dysfunction or dementia, few studies have prospectively observed this potential cognitive decline. In the current study, we performed cognitive assessments at baseline and after 3 years in the same patient group in an attempt to reveal the contributions of diabetes-related factors to the increased decline in cognitive function in elderly patients with T2DM.
The domain Archaea has historically been divided into two phyla, the Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota. Although regarded as members of the Crenarchaeota based on small subunit rRNA phylogeny, environmental genomics and efforts for cultivation have recently revealed two novel phyla/divisions in the Archaea; the Thaumarchaeota and Korarchaeota. Here, we show the genome sequence of Candidatus Caldiarchaeum subterraneum that represents an uncultivated crenarchaeotic group. A composite genome was reconstructed from a metagenomic library previously prepared from a microbial mat at a geothermal water stream of a sub-surface gold mine. The genome was found to be clearly distinct from those of the known phyla/divisions, Crenarchaeota (hyperthermophiles), Euryarchaeota, Thaumarchaeota and Korarchaeota. The unique traits suggest that this crenarchaeotic group can be considered as a novel archaeal phylum/division. Moreover, C. subterraneum harbors an ubiquitin-like protein modifier system consisting of Ub, E1, E2 and small Zn RING finger family protein with structural motifs specific to eukaryotic system proteins, a system clearly distinct from the prokaryote-type system recently identified in Haloferax and Mycobacterium. The presence of such a eukaryote-type system is unprecedented in prokaryotes, and indicates that a prototype of the eukaryotic protein modifier system is present in the Archaea.
We updated the tRNADB-CE by analyzing 939 complete and 1301 draft genomes of prokaryotes and eukaryotes, 171 complete virus genomes, 121 complete chloroplast genomes and approximately 230 million sequences obtained by metagenome analyses of 210 environmental samples. The 287?102 tRNA genes in total, and thus two times of the tRNA genes compiled previously, are compiled, in which sequence information, clover-leaf structure and results of sequence similarity and oligonucleotide-pattern search can be browsed. In order to pool collective knowledge with help from any experts in the tRNA research field, we included a column to which comments can be added on each tRNA gene. By compiling tRNAs of known prokaryotes with identical sequences, we found high phylogenetic preservation of tRNA sequences, especially at a phylum level. Furthermore, a large number of tRNAs obtained by metagenome analyses of environmental samples had sequences identical to those found in known prokaryotes. The identical sequence group, therefore, can be used as phylogenetic markers to clarify the microbial community structure of an ecosystem. The updated tRNADB-CE provided functions, with which users can obtain the phylotype-specific markers (e.g. genus-specific markers) by themselves and clarify microbial community structures of ecosystems in detail. tRNADB-CE can be accessed freely at http://trna.nagahama-i-bio.ac.jp.
Recently, diverse arrangements of transfer RNA (tRNA) genes have been found in the domain Archaea, in which the tRNA is interrupted by a maximum of three introns or is even fragmented into two or three genes. Whereas most of the eukaryotic tRNA introns are inserted strictly at the canonical nucleotide position (37/38), archaeal intron-containing tRNAs have a wide diversity of small tRNA introns, which differ in their numbers and locations. This feature is especially pronounced in the archaeal order Thermoproteales. In this study, we performed a comprehensive sequence comparison of 286 tRNA introns and their genes in seven Thermoproteales species to clarify how these introns have emerged and diversified during tRNA gene evolution. We identified 46 intron groups containing sets of highly similar sequences (>70%) and showed that 16 of them contain sequences from evolutionarily distinct tRNA genes. The phylogeny of these 16 intron groups indicates that transposition events have occurred at least seven times throughout the evolution of Thermoproteales. These findings suggest that frequent intron transposition occurs among the tRNA genes of Thermoproteales. Further computational analysis revealed limited insertion positions and corresponding amino acid types of tRNA genes. This has arisen because the bulge-helix-bulge splicing motif is required at the newly transposed position if the pre-tRNA is to be correctly processed. These results clearly demonstrate a newly identified mechanism that facilitates the late gain of short introns at various noncanonical positions in archaeal tRNAs.
During transcription, the nontranscribed DNA strand becomes single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), which can form secondary structures. Unpaired bases in the ssDNA are less protected from mutagens and hence experience more mutations than do paired bases. These mutations are called transcription-associated mutations. Transcription-associated mutagenesis is increased under stress and depends on the DNA sequence. Therefore, selection might significantly influence protein-coding sequences in terms of the transcription-associated mutability per transcription event under stress to improve the survival of Escherichia coli.
In many eukaryotes, microRNAs (miRNAs) bind to complementary sites in the 3-untranslated regions (3-UTRs) of target messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and regulate their expression at the stage of translation. Recent studies have revealed that many miRNAs are evolutionarily conserved; however, the evolution of their target genes has yet to be systematically characterized. We sought to elucidate a set of conserved miRNA/target-gene pairs and to analyse the mechanism underlying miRNA-mediated gene regulation in the early stage of bilaterian evolution.
RNase H (ribonuclease H) is an endonuclease that cleaves the RNA strand of RNA-DNA duplexes. It has been reported that the three-dimensional structure of RNase H is similar to that of the PIWI domain of the Pyrococcus furiosus Ago (argonaute) protein, although the two enzymes share almost no similarity in their amino acid sequences. Eukaryotic Ago proteins are key components of the RNA-induced silencing complex and are involved in microRNA or siRNA (small interfering RNA) recognition. In contrast, prokaryotic Ago proteins show greater affinity for RNA-DNA hybrids than for RNA-RNA hybrids. Interestingly, we found that wild-type Pf-RNase HII (P. furiosus, RNase HII) digests RNA-RNA duplexes in the presence of Mn2+ ions. To characterize the substrate specificity of Pf-RNase HII, we aligned the amino acid sequences of Pf-RNase HII and Pf-Ago, based on their protein secondary structures. We found that one of the conserved secondary structural regions (the fourth beta-sheet and the fifth alpha-helix of Pf-RNase HII) contains family-specific amino acid residues. Using a series of Pf-RNase HII-Pf-Ago chimaeric mutants of the region, we discovered that residues Asp110, Arg113 and Phe114 are responsible for the dsRNA (double-stranded RNA) digestion activity of Pf-RNase HII. On the basis of the reported three-dimensional structure of Ph-RNase HII from Pyrococcus horikoshii, we built a three-dimensional structural model of RNase HII complexed with its substrate, which suggests that these amino acids are located in the region that discriminates DNA from RNA in the non-substrate strand of the duplexes.
Transfer RNA (tRNA) is a central genetic element in the decoding of genome information for all of Earths life forms. Nevertheless, there are a great number of missing tRNAs that have been left without examination, especially in microbial genomes. Two tRNA gene families remarkable in their structure and expression mechanism have been reported: split and permuted tRNAs. Split tRNAs in archaea are encoded on the genome as two or three fragmented genes and then processed into single tRNA molecules. Permuted tRNAs are organized with the 5 and 3 halves of the gene positioned in reverse on the genome and hitherto have been found only in one tiny red alga. Here we reveal a wide-ranging distribution of permuted tRNA genes in the genomes of photosynthetic eukaryotes. This includes in the smallest eukaryotic genome known to date, the nucleomorph genome of the chlorarachniophyte alga Bigelowiella natans. Comparison between cDNA and genomic DNA sequences of two nucleomorph-encoded tRNA(Ser) genes confirms that precursors are circularized and processed into mature tRNA molecules in vivo. In the tRNA(Ser)(AGA), adenine at the wobble position of the codon is likely modified to inosine to expand capacity of the codon recognition. We also show the presence of permuted tRNAs in the ultrasmall free-living green algae Ostreococcus and Micromonas, which are closely related to the B. natans nucleomorph. Conserved intron/leader sequence structures in the intron-containing and permuted tRNAs suggest the ancient origin of the splicing machinery in the common ancestor of eukaryotes and archaea. Meanwhile, a wide but patchy distribution of permuted tRNA genes in the photosynthetic eukaryotes implies that extant permuted tRNAs might have emerged multiple times. Taken together, our data demonstrate that permuted tRNA is an evolutionarily conserved and fundamental element in tiny eukaryotic genomes.
SELEX is a conventional method to obtain high affinity nucleic acids to target molecules. In this study, high affinity RNA molecules against SRP19 protein were selected by using a randomized library. The primary and predicted secondary structures of the aptamers are different from those of S-domain RNA which is the natural target of SRP19 protein. Comparison of structural features between S-domain RNA and aptamers might enhance our understanding on RNA-protein interaction.
The following unusual tRNAs have recently been discovered in the genomes of Archaea and primitive Eukaryota: multiple-intron-containing tRNAs, which have more than one intron; split tRNAs, which are produced from two pieces of RNA transcribed from separate genes; tri-split tRNAs, which are produced from three separate genes; and permuted tRNA, in which the 5 and 3 halves are encoded with permuted orientations within a single gene. All these disrupted tRNA genes can form mature contiguous tRNA, which is aminoacylated after processing by cis or trans splicing. The discovery of such tRNA disruptions has raised the question of when and why these complex tRNA processing pathways emerged during the evolution of life. Many previous reports have noted that tRNA genes contain a single intron in the anticodon loop region, a feature common throughout all three domains of life, suggesting an ancient trait of the last universal common ancestor. In this context, these unique tRNA disruptions recently found only in Archaea and primitive Eukaryota provide new insight into the origin and evolution of tRNA genes, encouraging further research in this field. In this paper, we summarize the phylogeny, structure, and processing machinery of all known types of disrupted tRNAs and discuss possible evolutionary scenarios for these tRNA genes.
Recent transcriptomic analyses in mammals have uncovered the widespread occurrence of endogenous antisense transcripts, termed natural antisense transcripts (NATs). NATs are transcribed from the opposite strand of the gene locus and are thought to control sense gene expression, but the mechanism of such regulation is as yet unknown. Although several thousand potential sense-antisense pairs have been identified in mammals, examples of functionally characterized NATs remain limited. To identify NAT candidates suitable for further functional analyses, we performed DNA microarray-based NAT screening using mouse adult normal tissues and mammary tumors to target not only the sense orientation but also the complementary strand of the annotated genes.
Transfer RNA (tRNA) is essential for decoding the genome sequence into proteins. In Archaea, previous studies have revealed unique multiple intron-containing tRNAs and tRNAs that are encoded on 2 separate genes, so-called split tRNAs. Here, we discovered 10 fragmented tRNA genes in the complete genome of the hyperthermoacidophilic Archaeon Caldivirga maquilingensis that are individually transcribed and further trans-spliced to generate all of the missing tRNAs encoding glycine, alanine, and glutamate. Notably, the 3 mature tRNA(Gly)s with synonymous codons are created from 1 constitutive 3 half transcript and 4 alternatively switching transcripts, representing tRNA made from a total of 3 transcripts named a "tri-split tRNA." Expression and nucleotide sequences of 10 split tRNA genes and their joined tRNA products were experimentally verified. The intervening sequences of split tRNA have high identity to tRNA intron sequences located at the same positions in intron-containing tRNAs in related Thermoproteales species. This suggests that an evolutionary relationship between intron-containing and split tRNAs exists. Our findings demonstrate the first example of split tRNA genes in a free-living organism and a unique tri-split tRNA gene that provides further insight into the evolution of fragmented tRNAs.
Using an expression protein library of a hyperthermophilic archaeon, Pyrococcus furiosus, we identified a gene (PF0027) that encodes a protein with heat-stable cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (CPDase) activity. The PF0027 gene encoded a 21-kDa protein and an amino acid sequence that showed approximately 27% identity to that of the 2-5 tRNA ligase protein, ligT (20 kDa), from Escherichia coli. We found that the purified PF0027 protein possessed GTP-dependent RNA ligase activity and that synthetic tRNA halves bearing 2,3-cyclic phosphate and 5-OH termini were substrates for the ligation reaction in vitro. GTP hydrolysis was not required for the reaction, and GTPgammaS enhanced the tRNA ligation activity of PF0027 protein, suggesting that the ligation step is regulated by a novel mechanism. In comparison to the strong CPDase activity of the PF0027 protein, the RNA ligase activity itself was quite weak, and the ligation product was unstable during in vitro reaction. Finally, we used NMR to determine the solution structure of the PF0027 protein and discuss the implications of our results in understanding the role of the PF0027 protein.
Cleavage of introns from precursor transfer RNAs (tRNAs) by tRNA splicing endonuclease (EndA) is essential for tRNA maturation in Archaea and Eukarya. In the past, archaeal EndAs were classified into three types (?2, ?4 and ?2?2) according to subunit composition. Recently, we have identified a fourth type of archaeal EndA from an uncultivated archaeon Candidatus Micrarchaeum acidiphilum, referred to as ARMAN-2, which is deeply branched within Euryarchaea. The ARMAN-2 EndA forms an ?2 homodimer and has broad substrate specificity like the ?2?2 type EndAs found in Crenarchaea and Nanoarchaea. However, the precise architecture of ARMAN-2 EndA was unknown. Here, we report the crystal structure of the ?2 homodimer of ARMAN-2 EndA. The structure reveals that the ? protomer is separated into three novel units (?N, ? and ?C) fused by two distinct linkers, although the overall structure of ARMAN-2 EndA is similar to those of the other three types of archaeal EndAs. Structural comparison and mutational analyses reveal that an ARMAN-2 type-specific loop (ASL) is involved in the broad substrate specificity and that K161 in the ASL functions as the RNA recognition site. These findings suggest that the broad substrate specificities of ?2 and ?2?2 EndAs were separately acquired through different evolutionary processes.
Understanding the mechanistic basis of the disruption of tRNA genes, as manifested in the intron-containing and split tRNAs found in Archaea, will provide considerable insight into the evolution of the tRNA molecule. However, the evolutionary processes underlying these disruptions have not yet been identified. Previously, a composite genome of the deep-branching archaeon Caldiarchaeum subterraneum was reconstructed from a community genomic library prepared from a C. subterraneum-dominated microbial mat. Here, exploration of tRNA genes from the library reveals that there are at least three types of heterogeneity at the tRNA(Thr)(GGU) gene locus in the Caldiarchaeum population. All three involve intronic gain and splitting of the tRNA gene. Of two fosmid clones found that encode tRNA(Thr)(GGU), one (tRNA(Thr-I)) contains a single intron, whereas another (tRNA(Thr-II)) contains two introns. Notably, in the clone possessing tRNA(Thr-II), a 5 fragment of the tRNA(Thr-I) (tRNA(Thr-F)) gene was observed 1.8-kb upstream of tRNA(Thr-II). The composite genome contains both tRNA(Thr-II) and tRNA(Thr-F), although the loci are >500 kb apart. Given that the 1.8-kb sequence flanked by tRNA(Thr-F) and tRNA(Thr-II) is predicted to encode a DNA recombinase and occurs in six regions of the composite genome, it may be a transposable element. Furthermore, its dinucleotide composition is most similar to that of the pNOB8-type plasmid, which is known to integrate into archaeal tRNA genes. Based on these results, we propose that the gain of the tRNA intron and the scattering of the tRNA fragment occurred within a short time frame via the integration and recombination of a mobile genetic element.
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