skip to main content

Title: Arabidopsis retains vertebrate-type telomerase accessory proteins via a plant-specific assembly
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.
Authors:
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
2047915
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10315620
Journal Name:
Nucleic Acids Research
Volume:
49
Issue:
16
ISSN:
0305-1048
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Telomerase 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 »expansion of PK structure from the simple PK in the smaller ciliate TR during evolution. Thus, the plant TR provides an evolutionary bridge that unites the disparate structures of previously characterized TRs from ciliates and vertebrates.« less
  2. Abstract

    Telomere maintenance is a fundamental cellular process conserved across all eukaryotic lineages. Although plants and animals diverged over 1.5 billion years ago, lessons learned from plants continue to push the boundaries of science, revealing detailed molecular mechanisms in telomere biology with broad implications for human health, aging biology, and stress responses. Recent studies of plant telomeres have unveiled unexpected divergence in telomere sequence and architecture, and the proteins that engage telomeric DNA and telomerase. The discovery of telomerase RNA components in the plant kingdom and some algae groups revealed new insight into the divergent evolution and the universal core of telomerase across major eukaryotic kingdoms. In addition, resources cataloging the abundant natural variation in Arabidopsis thaliana, maize (Zea mays), and other plants are providing unparalleled opportunities to understand the genetic networks that govern telomere length polymorphism and, as a result, are uncovering unanticipated crosstalk between telomeres, environmental factors, organismal fitness, and plant physiology. Here we recap current advances in plant telomere biology and put this field in perspective relative to telomere and telomerase research in other eukaryotic lineages.

  3. The unfolded protein response (UPR) is an adaptive eukaryotic reaction that controls the protein folding capacities of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The most ancient and well-conserved component of the UPR is Inositol-Requiring Enzyme 1 (IRE1). Arabidopsis IRE1a (AtIRE1) is a transmembrane sensor of ER stress equipped with dual protein kinase and ribonuclease (RNase) activities, encoded by its C-terminal domain. In response to both physiological stresses and pathological perturbations, AtIRE1a directly cleaves bZIP60 ( basic leucine zipper 60 ) mRNA. Here, we developed a quantitative in vitro cleavage assay that combines recombinant AtIRE1a protein that is expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana and total RNA isolated from Arabidopsis leaves. Wild-type AtIRE1a as well as its variants containing point mutations in the kinase or RNase domains that modify its cleavage activity were employed to demonstrate their contributions to cleavage activity levels. We show that, when exposed to total RNA in vitro , the AtIRE1a protein cleaves bZIP60 mRNA. Depletion of the bZIP60 transcript in the reaction mixture can be precisely quantified by a qRT-PCR-mediated assay. This method facilitates the functional studies of novel plant IRE1 variants by allowing to quickly and precisely assess the effects of protein mutations on the substrate mRNA cleavage activitymore »before advancing to more laborious, stable transgenic approaches in planta . Moreover, this method is readily adaptable to other plant IRE1 paralogs and orthologs, and can also be employed to test additional novel mRNA substrates of plant IRE1, such as transcripts undergoing degradation through the process of regulated IRE1-dependent decay (RIDD). Finally, this method can also be modified and expanded to functional testing of IRE1 interactors and inhibitors, as well as for studies on the molecular evolution of IRE1 and its substrates, providing additional insights into the mechanistic underpinnings of IRE1-mediated ER stress homeostasis in plant tissues.« less
  4. Norwick, Katja (Ed.)
    Abstract In plants, miRNA production is orchestrated by a suite of proteins that control transcription of the pri-miRNA gene, post-transcriptional processing and nuclear export of the mature miRNA. Post-transcriptional processing of miRNAs is controlled by a pair of physically interacting proteins, hyponastic leaves 1 (HYL1) and Dicer-like 1 (DCL1). However, the evolutionary history and structural basis of the HYL1–DCL1 interaction is unknown. Here we use ancestral sequence reconstruction and functional characterization of ancestral HYL1 in vitro and in Arabidopsis thaliana to better understand the origin and evolution of the HYL1–DCL1 interaction and its impact on miRNA production and plant development. We found the ancestral plant HYL1 evolved high affinity for both double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and its DCL1 partner before the divergence of mosses from seed plants (∼500 Ma), and these high-affinity interactions remained largely conserved throughout plant evolutionary history. Structural modeling and molecular binding experiments suggest that the second of two dsRNA-binding motifs (DSRMs) in HYL1 may interact tightly with the first of two C-terminal DCL1 DSRMs to mediate the HYL1–DCL1 physical interaction necessary for efficient miRNA production. Transgenic expression of the nearly 200 Ma-old ancestral flowering-plant HYL1 in A. thaliana was sufficient to rescue many key aspects of plantmore »development disrupted by HYL1− knockout and restored near-native miRNA production, suggesting that the functional partnership of HYL1–DCL1 originated very early in and was strongly conserved throughout the evolutionary history of terrestrial plants. Overall, our results are consistent with a model in which miRNA-based gene regulation evolved as part of a conserved plant “developmental toolkit.”« less
  5. Wittkopp, Patricia (Ed.)
    Abstract Telomerase RNA (TR) is a noncoding RNA essential for the function of telomerase ribonucleoprotein. TRs from vertebrates, fungi, ciliates, and plants exhibit extreme diversity in size, sequence, secondary structure, and biogenesis pathway. However, the evolutionary pathways leading to such unusual diversity among eukaryotic kingdoms remain elusive. Within the metazoan kingdom, the study of TR has been limited to vertebrates and echinoderms. To understand the origin and evolution of TR across the animal kingdom, we employed a phylogeny-guided, structure-based bioinformatics approach to identify 82 novel TRs from eight previously unexplored metazoan phyla, including the basal-branching sponges. Synthetic TRs from two representative species, a hemichordate and a mollusk, reconstitute active telomerase in vitro with their corresponding telomerase reverse transcriptase components, confirming that they are authentic TRs. Comparative analysis shows that three functional domains, template-pseudoknot (T-PK), CR4/5, and box H/ACA, are conserved between vertebrate and the basal metazoan lineages, indicating a monophyletic origin of the animal TRs with a snoRNA-related biogenesis mechanism. Nonetheless, TRs along separate animal lineages evolved with divergent structural elements in the T-PK and CR4/5 domains. For example, TRs from echinoderms and protostomes lack the canonical CR4/5 and have independently evolved functionally equivalent domains with different secondary structures. Inmore »the T-PK domain, a P1.1 stem common in most metazoan clades defines the template boundary, which is replaced by a P1-defined boundary in vertebrates. This study provides unprecedented insight into the divergent evolution of detailed TR secondary structures across broad metazoan lineages, revealing ancestral and later-diversified elements.« less