The Transcriptome of the Human Pathogen Trypanosoma brucei at Single-Nucleotide Resolution

School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.
PLoS Pathogens (Impact Factor: 7.56). 09/2010; 6(9):e1001090. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001090
Source: PubMed


The genome of Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of African trypanosomiasis, was published five years ago, yet identification of all genes and their transcripts remains to be accomplished. Annotation is challenged by the organization of genes transcribed by RNA polymerase II (Pol II) into long unidirectional gene clusters with no knowledge of how transcription is initiated. Here we report a single-nucleotide resolution genomic map of the T. brucei transcriptome, adding 1,114 new transcripts, including 103 non-coding RNAs, confirming and correcting many of the annotated features and revealing an extensive heterogeneity of 5' and 3' ends. Some of the new transcripts encode polypeptides that are either conserved in T. cruzi and Leishmania major or were previously detected in mass spectrometry analyses. High-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) was sensitive enough to detect transcripts at putative Pol II transcription initiation sites. Our results, as well as recent data from the literature, indicate that transcription initiation is not solely restricted to regions at the beginning of gene clusters, but may occur at internal sites. We also provide evidence that transcription at all putative initiation sites in T. brucei is bidirectional, a recently recognized fundamental property of eukaryotic promoters. Our results have implications for gene expression patterns in other important human pathogens with similar genome organization (Trypanosoma cruzi, Leishmania sp.) and revealed heterogeneity in pre-mRNA processing that could potentially contribute to the survival and success of the parasite population in the insect vector and the mammalian host.

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    • "For Fig 3,log 2 (RPKM) values were computed for the region that lies between the 3énd of the last gene in the (+) strand PTU and the 5énd of the first gene in the (-) strand PTU for each analyzed cSSR. For Fig 4,the maximal length 3´UTR3´UTR was defined using the data in[26]. The analysis was restricted to cSSRs 1–5 kb in length and flanked by genes with defined 3´UTRs3´UTRs. "
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    ABSTRACT: Trypanosoma brucei is a protozoan parasite that lacks many transcription factors found in other eukaryotes, such as those whose binding demarcates enhancers. T. brucei retains histone variants and modifications, however, and it is hypothesized that it relies on epigenetic marks to define transcription-related boundaries. The histone H3 variant (H3.V) and an alternate nucleotide, base J (ß-D-glucosyl-hydroxymethyluracil), are two chromatin marks found at both transcription termination sites (TTSs) and telomeres. Here, we report that the absence of both base J and H3.V result in transcription readthrough and the appearance of antisense transcripts near TTSs. Additionally, we find that maintaining the transcriptional silencing of pol I-transcribed telomeric Variant Surface Glycoprotein (VSG) genes appears to be dependent on deposition of H3.V alone. Our study reveals that gene expression depends on different epigenetic cues depending on chromosomal location and on the transcribing polymerase. This work provides insight into how these signals may have evolved into the more nuanced and fine-tuned gene regulatory mechanisms observed in other model systems.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · PLoS Genetics
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    • "In trypanosomatids, the protein-coding genes are arranged in large directional gene clusters (DGCs) [1]. Despite initiating at still imprecisely defined promoters2345, RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) directs transcription of polycistronic mRNAs in an apparently constitutive manner [6,7]. Individual mRNAs are later generated by 5 0 trans-splicing, a process that involves the addition of a small conserved RNA called the spliced leader (SL) and the polyadenylation at their 3 0 ends [8]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In trypanosomatids, the RNA polymerase I (RNAPI)-dependent promoters controlling the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes have been well identified. Although the RNAPI transcription machinery recognizes the DNA conformation instead of the DNA sequence of promoters, no conformational study has been reported for these promoters. Here we present the in silico analysis of the intrinsic DNA curvature of the rRNA gene core promoters in Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi, and Leishmania major. We found that, in spite of the absence of sequence conservation, these promoters hold conformational properties similar to other eukaryotic rRNA promoters. Our results also indicated that the intrinsic DNA curvature pattern is conserved within the Leishmania genus and also among strains of T. cruzi and T. brucei. Furthermore, we analyzed the impact of point mutations on the intrinsic curvature and their impact on the promoter activity. Furthermore, we found that the core promoters of protein-coding genes transcribed by RNAPI in T. brucei show the same conserved conformational characteristics. Overall, our results indicate that DNA intrinsic curvature of the rRNA gene core promoters is conserved in these ancient eukaryotes and such conserved curvature might be a requirement of RNAPI machinery for transcription of not only rRNA genes but also protein-coding genes.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015
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    • "Moreover, these reads did not map to ORFs, indicating that they do not reflect the presence of translating ribosomes (data not shown). Of the >1100 novel transcripts previously described [11], we found that fewer than 10% showed clear evidence of protein production, suggesting they play other roles in parasite biology. In contrast, only 22 annotated CDSs with mRNA levels above the lowest quartile had negligible ribosome footprints (<180 total summed across all libraries). "
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    ABSTRACT: Since the initial publication of the trypanosomatid genomes, curation has been ongoing. Here we make use of existing Trypanosoma brucei ribosome profiling data to provide evidence of ribosome occupancy (and likely translation) of mRNAs from 225 currently unannotated coding sequences (CDSs). A small number of these putative genes correspond to extra copies of previously annotated genes, but 85% are novel. The median size of these novels CDSs is small (81 aa), indicating that past annotation work has excelled at detecting large CDSs. Of the unique CDSs confirmed here, over half have candidate orthologues in other trypanosomatid genomes, most of which were not yet annotated as protein-coding genes. Nonetheless, approximately one-third of the new CDSs were found only in T. brucei subspecies. Using ribosome footprints, RNA-Seq and spliced leader mapping data, we updated previous work to definitively revise the start sites for 414CDSs as compared to the current gene models. The data pointed to several regions of the genome that had sequence errors that altered coding region boundaries. Finally, we consolidated this data with our previous work to propose elimination of 683 putative genes as protein-coding and arrive at a view of the translatome of slender bloodstream and procyclic culture form T. brucei.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology
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