Complete characterization of the edited transcriptome of the mitochondrion of Physarum polycephalum using deep sequencing of RNA

Department of Physics, Department of Biochemistry and Center for RNA Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.
Nucleic Acids Research (Impact Factor: 9.11). 04/2011; 39(14):6044-55. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkr180
Source: PubMed


RNAs transcribed from the mitochondrial genome of Physarum polycephalum are heavily edited. The most prevalent editing event is the insertion of single Cs, with Us and dinucleotides also added at specific sites. The existence of insertional editing makes gene identification difficult and localization of editing sites has relied upon characterization of individual cDNAs. We have now determined the complete mitochondrial transcriptome of Physarum using Illumina deep sequencing of purified mitochondrial RNA. We report the first instances of A and G insertions and sites of partial and extragenic editing in Physarum mitochondrial RNAs, as well as an additional 772 C, U and dinucleotide insertions. The notable lack of antisense RNAs in our non-size selected, directional library argues strongly against an RNA-guided editing mechanism. Also of interest are our findings that sites of C to U changes are unedited at a significantly higher frequency than insertional editing sites and that substitutional editing of neighboring sites appears to be coupled. Finally, in addition to the characterization of RNAs from 17 predicted genes, our data identified nine new mitochondrial genes, four of which encode proteins that do not resemble other proteins in the database. Curiously, one of the latter mRNAs contains no editing sites.

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Available from: Janine Altmüller, Nov 12, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: RNA editing describes the process in which individual or short stretches of nucleotides in a messenger or structural RNA are inserted, deleted, or substituted. A high level of RNA editing has been observed in the mitochondrial genome of Physarum polycephalum. The most frequent editing type in Physarum is the insertion of individual Cs. RNA editing is extremely accurate in Physarum; however, little is known about its mechanism. Here, we demonstrate how analyzing two organisms from the Myxomycetes, namely Physarum polycephalum and Didymium iridis, allows us to test hypotheses about the editing mechanism that can not be tested from a single organism alone. First, we show that using the recently determined full transcriptome information of Physarum dramatically improves the accuracy of computational editing site prediction in Didymium. We use this approach to predict genes in the mitochondrial genome of Didymium and identify six new edited genes as well as one new gene that appears unedited. Next we investigate sequence conservation in the vicinity of editing sites between the two organisms in order to identify sites that harbor the information for the location of editing sites based on increased conservation. Our results imply that the information contained within only nine or ten nucleotides on either side of the editing site (a distance previously suggested through experiments) is not enough to locate the editing sites. Finally, we show that the codon position bias in C insertional RNA editing of these two organisms is correlated with the selection pressure on the respective genes thereby directly testing an evolutionary theory on the origin of this codon bias. Beyond revealing interesting properties of insertional RNA editing in Myxomycetes, our work suggests possible approaches to be used when finding sequence motifs for any biological process fails.
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