Genes come and go: The evolutionarily plastic path of budding yeast RNase III enzymes

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
RNA biology (Impact Factor: 4.97). 09/2012; 9(9). DOI: 10.4161/rna.21360
Source: PubMed


Our recent finding that the Candida albicans RNase III enzyme CaDcr1 is an unusual, multifunctional RNase III coupled with data on the RNase III enzymes from other fungal species prompted us to seek a model that explained the evolution of RNase III's in modern budding yeast species. CaDcr1 has both dicer function (generates small RNA molecules from dsRNA precursors) and Rnt1 function, (catalyzes the maturation of 35S rRNA and U4 snRNA). Some budding yeast species have two distinct genes that encode these functions, a Dicer and RNT1, whereas others have only an RNT1 and no Dicer. As none of the budding yeast species has the canonical Dicer found in many other fungal lineages and most eukaryotes, the extant species must have evolved from an ancestor that lost the canonical Dicer, and evolved a novel Dicer from the essential RNT1 gene. No single, simple model could explain the evolution of RNase III enzymes from this ancestor because existing sequence data are consistent with two equally plausible models. The models share an architecture for RNase III evolution that involves gene duplication, loss, subfunctionalization, and neofunctionalization. This commentary explains our reasoning, and offers the prospect that further genomic data could further resolve the dilemma surrounding the budding yeast RNase III's evolution.

Download full-text


Available from: Gerald Fink, Apr 24, 2014
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Our understanding of the pervasive involvement of small RNAs in regulating diverse biological processes has been greatly augmented by recent application of deep-sequencing technologies to small RNA across diverse eukaryotes. We review the currently known small RNA classes and place them in context of the reconstructed evolutionary history of the RNA interference (RNAi) protein machinery. This synthesis indicates that the earliest versions of eukaryotic RNAi systems likely utilized small RNA processed from three types of precursors: (1) sense-antisense transcriptional products, (2) genome-encoded, imperfectly complementary hairpin sequences, and (3) larger noncoding RNA precursor sequences. Structural dissection of PIWI proteins along with recent discovery of novel families (including Med13 of the Mediator complex) suggest that emergence of a distinct architecture with the N-terminal domains (also occurring separately fused to endoDNases in prokaryotes) formed via duplication of an ancestral unit was key to their recruitment as primary RNAi effectors and use of small RNAs of certain preferred lengths. Prokaryotic PIWI proteins are typically components of several RNA-directed DNA restriction or CRISPR/Cas systems. However, eukaryotic versions appear to have emerged from a subset that evolved RNA-directed RNAi. They were recruited alongside RNaseIII domains and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) domains, also from prokaryotic systems, to form the core eukaryotic RNAi system. Like certain regulatory systems, RNAi diversified into two distinct but linked arms concomitant with eukaryotic nucleocytoplasmic compartmentalization. Subsequent elaboration of RNAi proceeded via diversification of the core protein machinery through lineage-specific expansions and recruitment of new components from prokaryotes (nucleases and small RNA-modifying enzymes), allowing for diversification of associating small RNAs.
    WIREs RNA 03/2014; 5(2). DOI:10.1002/wrna.1210 · 6.02 Impact Factor