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Creators/Authors contains: "Podlevsky, Joshua D."

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  1. Telomerase is a eukaryotic ribonucleoprotein (RNP) enzyme that adds DNA repeats onto chromosome ends to maintain genomic stability and confer cellular immortality in cancer and stem cells. The telomerase RNA (TER) component is essential for telomerase catalytic activity and provides the template for telomeric DNA synthesis. The biogenesis of TERs is extremely divergent across eukaryotic kingdoms, employing distinct types of transcription machinery and processing pathways. In ciliates and plants, TERs are transcribed by RNA polymerase III (Pol III), while animal and ascomycete fungal TERs are transcribed by RNA Pol II and share biogenesis pathways with small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA) and small nuclear RNA (snRNA), respectively. Here, we report an unprecedented messenger RNA (mRNA)-derived biogenesis pathway for the 1,291 nucleotide TER from the basidiomycete fungus Ustilago maydis . The U. maydis TER ( Um TER) contains a 5′-monophosphate, distinct from the 5′ 2,2,7-trimethylguanosine (TMG) cap common to animal and ascomycete fungal TERs. The mature Um TER is processed from the 3′-untranslated region (3′-UTR) of a larger RNA precursor that possesses characteristics of mRNA including a 5′ 7-methyl-guanosine (m 7 G) cap, alternative splicing of introns, and a poly(A) tail. Moreover, this mRNA transcript encodes a protein called Early meiotic induction proteinmore »1 (Emi1) that is conserved across dikaryotic fungi. A recombinant Um TER precursor expressed from an mRNA promoter is processed correctly to yield mature Um TER, confirming an mRNA-processing pathway for producing TER. Our findings expand the plethora of TER biogenesis mechanisms and demonstrate a pathway for producing a functional long noncoding RNA from a protein-coding mRNA precursor.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 11, 2023
  2. 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