- Wittkopp, Patricia
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- Molecular Biology and Evolution
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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The conserved structure of plant telomerase RNA provides the missing link for an evolutionary pathway from ciliates to humansTelomerase is essential for maintaining telomere integrity. Although telomerase function is widely conserved, the integral telomerase RNA (TR) that provides a template for telomeric DNA synthesis has diverged dramatically. Nevertheless, TR molecules retain 2 highly conserved structural domains critical for catalysis: a template-proximal pseudoknot (PK) structure and a downstream stem-loop structure. Here we introduce the authentic TR from the plant Arabidopsis thaliana , called AtTR, identified through next-generation sequencing of RNAs copurifying with Arabidopsis TERT. This RNA is distinct from the RNA previously described as the templating telomerase RNA, AtTER1. AtTR is a 268-nt Pol III transcript necessary for telomere maintenance in vivo and sufficient with TERT to reconstitute telomerase activity in vitro. Bioinformatics analysis identified 85 AtTR orthologs from 3 major clades of plants: angiosperms, gymnosperms, and lycophytes. Through phylogenetic comparisons, a secondary structure model conserved among plant TRs was inferred and verified using in vitro and in vivo chemical probing. The conserved plant TR structure contains a template-PK core domain enclosed by a P1 stem and a 3′ long-stem P4/5/6, both of which resemble a corresponding structural element in ciliate and vertebrate TRs. However, the plant TR contains additional stems and linkers within the template-PK core, allowing formore »
Abstract The enormous sequence heterogeneity of telomerase RNA (TR) subunits has thus far complicated their characterization in a wider phylogenetic range. Our recent finding that land plant TRs are, similarly to known ciliate TRs, transcribed by RNA polymerase III and under the control of the type-3 promoter, allowed us to design a novel strategy to characterize TRs in early diverging Viridiplantae taxa, as well as in ciliates and other Diaphoretickes lineages. Starting with the characterization of the upstream sequence element of the type 3 promoter that is conserved in a number of small nuclear RNAs, and the expected minimum TR template region as search features, we identified candidate TRs in selected Diaphoretickes genomes. Homologous TRs were then used to build covariance models to identify TRs in more distant species. Transcripts of the identified TRs were confirmed by transcriptomic data, RT-PCR and Northern hybridization. A templating role for one of our candidates was validated in Physcomitrium patens. Analysis of secondary structure demonstrated a deep conservation of motifs (pseudoknot and template boundary element) observed in all published TRs. These results elucidate the evolution of the earliest eukaryotic TRs, linking the common origin of TRs across Diaphoretickes, and underlying evolutionary transitions in telomeremore »
In contrast to the catalytic subunit of telomerase, its RNA subunit (TR) is highly divergent in size, sequence and biogenesis pathways across eukaryotes. Current views on TR evolution assume a common origin of TRs transcribed with RNA polymerase II in Opisthokonta (the supergroup including Animalia and Fungi) and Trypanosomida on one hand, and TRs transcribed with RNA polymerase III under the control of type 3 promoter, found in TSAR and Archaeplastida supergroups (including e.g. ciliates and Viridiplantae taxa, respectively). Here, we focus on unknown TRs in one of the largest Animalia order - Hymenoptera (Arthropoda) with more than 300 available representative genomes. Using a combination of bioinformatic and experimental approaches, we identify their TRs. In contrast to the presumed type of TRs (H/ACA box snoRNAs transcribed with RNA Polymerase II) corresponding to their phylogenetic position, we find here short TRs of the snRNA type, likely transcribed with RNA polymerase III under the control of the type 3 promoter. The newly described insect TRs thus question the hitherto assumed monophyletic origin of TRs across Animalia and point to an evolutionary switch in TR type and biogenesis that was associated with the divergence of Arthropods.
Abstract The recent discovery of the bona-fide telomerase RNA (TR) from plants reveals conserved and unique secondary structure elements and the opportunity for new insight into the telomerase RNP. Here we examine how two highly conserved proteins previously implicated in Arabidopsis telomere maintenance, AtPOT1a and AtNAP57 (dyskerin), engage plant telomerase. We report that AtPOT1a associates with Arabidopsis telomerase via interaction with TERT. While loss of AtPOT1a does not impact AtTR stability, the templating domain is more accessible in pot1a mutants, supporting the conclusion that AtPOT1a stimulates telomerase activity but does not facilitate telomerase RNP assembly. We also show, that despite the absence of a canonical H/ACA binding motif within AtTR, dyskerin binds AtTR with high affinity and specificity in vitro via a plant specific three-way junction (TWJ). A core element of the TWJ is the P1a stem, which unites the 5′ and 3′ ends of AtTR. P1a is required for dyskerin-mediated stimulation of telomerase repeat addition processivity in vitro, and for AtTR accumulation and telomerase activity in vivo. The deployment of vertebrate-like accessory proteins and unique RNA structural elements by Arabidopsis telomerase provides a new platform for exploring telomerase biogenesis and evolution.
Evolution of methyltransferase like (METTL) proteins in Metazoa: A complex gene family involved in epitranscriptomic regulation and other epigenetic processesLarracuente, Amanda (Ed.)Abstract The methyltransferase like (METTL) proteins constitute a family of seven-beta-strand methyltransferases with S-adenosyl methionine binding domains that modify DNA, RNA, and proteins. Methylation by METTL proteins contributes to the epigenetic, and in the case of RNA modifications, epitranscriptomic regulation of a variety of biological processes. Despite their functional importance, most investigations of the substrates and functions of METTLs within metazoans have been restricted to model vertebrate taxa. In the present work, we explore the evolutionary mechanisms driving the diversification and functional differentiation of 33 individual METTL proteins across Metazoa. Our results show that METTLs are nearly ubiquitous across the animal kingdom, with most having arisen early in metazoan evolution (i.e., occur in basal metazoan phyla). Individual METTL lineages each originated from single independent ancestors, constituting monophyletic clades, which suggests that each METTL was subject to strong selective constraints driving its structural and/or functional specialization. Interestingly, a similar process did not extend to the differentiation of nucleoside-modifying and protein-modifying METTLs (i.e., each METTL type did not form a unique monophyletic clade). The members of these two types of METTLs also exhibited differences in their rates of evolution. Overall, we provide evidence that the long-term evolution of METTL family members wasmore »