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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recent phosphoproteome analyses using mass spectrometry-based technologies have provided new insights into the extensive presence of protein phosphorylation in various species and have raised the interesting question of how this protein modification was gained evolutionarily on such a large scale. We investigated this issue by using human and mouse phosphoproteome data. We initially found that phosphoproteins followed a power-law distribution with regard to their number of phosphosites: most of the proteins included only a few phosphosites, but some included dozens of phosphosites. The power-law distribution, unlike more commonly observed distributions such as normal and log-normal distributions, is considered by the field of complex systems science to be produced by a specific rich-get-richer process called preferential attachment growth. Therefore, we explored the factors that may have promoted the rich-get-richer process during phosphosite evolution. We conducted a bioinformatics analysis to evaluate the relationship of amino acid sequences of phosphoproteins with the positions of phosphosites and found an overconcentration of phosphosites in specific regions of protein surfaces and implications that in many phosphoproteins these clusters of phosphosites are activated simultaneously. Multiple phosphosites concentrated in limited spaces on phosphoprotein surfaces may therefore function biologically as cooperative modules that are resistant to selective pressures during phosphoprotein evolution. We therefore proposed a hypothetical model by which the modularization of multiple phosphosites has been resistant to natural selection and has driven the rich-get-richer process of the evolutionary growth of phosphosite numbers.
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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